UNISON, the UK’s largest public sector union today hit back at the Government’s attack on public sector pensions, accusing them of scaremongering, peddling myths and of breathtaking double-speak.
Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said:
“Only a few months ago, Clegg was warning that cutting public spending now would threaten the economic recovery. Now he is saying that public sector workers should pay the price for the banker’s recession, with cuts to their pensions.
“The Government is using breathtaking double-speak to peddle myths about public sector pension schemes - trying to pit public sector workers against those in the private sector - and it just won’t work.
“These pension myths are scaremongering. There are no unreformed, gold-plated pension pots. The average pension in local government is just £4,000 a year dropping to £2,600 for women. Public sector pensions have already gone through massive changes to ensure they are sustainable and affordable.
“It is grossly misleading to pick one moment in time and apply that to the 20-30 years of a pension scheme cycle. You have got to look at why pension costs are rising. Costs are based on stocks and shares and the collapse in the stock market has hit all schemes But pensions are for the long term – a 20 year timeframe is more appropriate to assess the true cost - the Government’s knee-jerk reaction makes no sense. These figures are put out there to create an aura for cuts, but they are not the true picture.
“The review to the NHS scheme in 2008 gives complete protection to the public purse. The employers’ contribution is capped at 14% and, if the cost rises, it is health workers who will pick up the bill.
“The Government should be encouraging people to save for their retirement, not attacking workers who do. If people do not save for their pension, through a decent scheme – they will end up having to rely on taxpayer funded benefits in their retirement.”
UNISON UK press release