Unite: Health workers to step up pensions’ fight on 10 May

Up to 100,000 members of Unite, working for the NHS will be staging protests and industrial action on Thursday, 10 May over attacks to their pensions which could see them working until they are 68.

The action will come a day after the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday, 9 May. It is expected that the speech will include a parliamentary bill forcing through public sector pension changes. The changes will lead to health workers paying more, working longer and getting less.

Unite NHS members including health visitors, pharmacists and paramedics now face, on average, an extra £30-a-month to pay for their pensions, against a background of soaring household bills.

It is anticipated that Unite members will join other public sector unions on 10 May as part of the on-going campaign against government attacks on public sector pensions. The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) is meeting later today (Tuesday, 17 April) to discuss taking action with other unions.

The pension campaign comes against a backdrop of public sector pay freezes, pay cuts and the prospect of regional pay. On top of which hardworking health professionals are also facing attacks to their terms and conditions and growing job insecurity.

Unite national officer for health, Rachael Maskell, said: “The government is picking the pockets of health workers by an average of £30-a-month in order to pay for pension changes which will see people having to work longer to get less. This disgraceful attack comes against a backdrop of pay freezes and the threat of regional pay in the public sector. In the face of continued attacks, health workers will be stepping up their campaign and looking to join other public sector workers in taking action on 10 May.”

Unite’s health members voted by a margin of over 94 per cent to reject the pensions’ package. Their concerns regarding the NHS schemes centre on three areas:

The linking of the NHS pension age to the rising state pension age – which is set to rise to 68 and beyond. Staff in many key roles doubt their capability to maintain high quality care and patient safety at these ages.

Most Unite NHS members will see their pension contributions increased from 6.5 per cent to 9.3 per cent over the next three years; this coming after a two- year pay freeze and the proposed two years of a maximum one per cent increase for some staff.

The proposed new scheme will deliver considerably less pension when members retire, or a pension paid only for a much shorter retirement, and pensions during retirement will be further reduced due to lower consumer price index (CPI) indexation.


Notes to editors:

For further information, please contact Unite press office on 020 3371 2065, Alex Flynn, Unite head of media and campaigns on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.