Aberdeenshire UNISON

Protect our pensionsOur pensions under attack
Pay more - Work longer - Get less

Pensions Mass Meeting 14th July 2011

North East's public services join together to protect membersí pensions

Pensions panel

Trade unionists from across the public sector joined with retired members to condemn this Government's attack on public service pensions and to pledge action to protect our pensions.

Click here for more on the threats to our pensions

Mike Kirby
Mike Kirby, Scottish Secretary

Speaking at the Pensions Meeting on 14th July at the Beach Ballroom, Aberdeen, UNISON Scottish Secretary, Mike Kirby said that pension scheme members face a "double, double whammy."

Not only will our pensions go down by 15% with pension increases being pegged to the lower Consumer Price Index from the Retail Price Index; not only will our pension age go up from 65 to 68; not only will we have to pay 50% more in contributions; but that money won't even go into our pension schemes but will go straight into the treasury.

"This is purely a pension tax to pay back the bankers," said Mike. "The government's strategy is clear. They want us to pay more, work longer and get less when we retire."

Mike Middleton, GMB and Bill Castles, Unite
Mike Middleton, GMB and Bill Castles, Unite

The meeting heard from a range of speakers including Mike Middleton from the GMB and Bill Castles from Unite, both of whom urged us to fight for our pensions. "If you wish a future of eat or heat then do nothing," said Mike. "But if you want a future of dignity in retirement then get out there and take action," he urged.


We also heard from two of UNISON's retired members, Renee Townend and Louisa Low. Both paid into the pension scheme from as soon as they were able because they wanted a decent retirement. Renee spoke of how she is living on a pension of £4000 - "hardly gold-plated" and her state pension. "Having my pension means I don't have to claim benefits so I'm saving the government money," she said, pointing out that reducing pensions makes no sense and will result in the less well off needing to rely on benefits.

Mike with Renee Townend and Louisa Low

Louisa added that both also pay tax on their pensions. "The government forgets that pensioners are tax payers too," she said. "Not only do I not claim benefits but I also contribute to the economy through my taxes."


Louisa with Colin Jones and Emma Watt

Colin Jones of the Universities Branch told the meeting that he felt betrayed. He was always told that it was the right thing to contribute for a decent pension and despite having a young family, and money being tight, he had always followed this advice. Now the government is telling us to pay more, work longer and get less.


Finally, psychiatric nurse Emma Watt told the meeting of her concerns about her ability to do her job aged 68. She described the government's attacks on our pensions as "the final insult."

"We must stand together and tell this government that our pensions are not up for grabs."


There was a question and answer session that challenged the myths which the government is spinning and the media is perpetuating.

  • our pension funds are sustainable and in good shape
  • they are set to decrease as a percentage of GDP from next year onwards
  • they are not "gold plated". The average public sector pensioner has a pension of between £3,500 and £5,000 per year
  • they save the country money by keeping pensioners off state benefits and through the tax paid on pensions
  • attacks on our pensions will disproportionately affect the lower paid, mainly women workers
  • there are many jobs in the public sector that people will not be able to do when they are over 65 - like nursing or other caring roles; and manual work
  • there is no public private divide - we want fair pensions for all but we will not collude with a race to the bottom
  • Hutton's Report on pensions called for the government to ensure that workers in the private sector also have access to the sustainable pensions

Mike ended by urging all those attending to go out and do our bit to challenge these myths and to convince the public and even some our members of these arguments in the face of misleading and sometimes hostile media information.