Aberdeenshire UNISON

Day of Action on PensionsSix good reasons to take action on 30th Nov to defend our pensions

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1. Our pensions are not "gold-plated". The UK government and the media would have us believe that public sector workers have gold-plated pensions but this is just not true.

The average Local Government pension is 3,500 - 5,000 a year and for women it is just 2,800.

The average pension of a Director of a FTSE 100 company is 174,963 a year. These are the real "gold-plated pensions".

2. If the government gets its way our pensions will be worth even less. The UK government has already changed our pensions from being linked to the higher Retail Price Index to the Consumer Price Index. This means that the average public service pensioner is losing 117 a year and that will be cumulative.

These cuts to our pensions will lead to pensioner poverty for many and to a greater reliance on state benefit when we retire.

Pay more, work longer, get lessPlans to move to a 'career average' pension instead of final salary could see another drop in our pensions. To get roughly equal to what people get now, the pension would have to accrue at about 1/55th of salary. Currently the Scottish scheme accrues at 1/60th. The government plans an accrual rate of 1/65th of salary meaning less in retirement while paying more.

And don't believe the myth about a pensions deficit. There is no funding gap - the public sector schemes were assessed for long term risk and adjusted accordingly three years ago and are now very secure.

Both the local government pension scheme and NHS pension scheme are currently cash rich with income far exceeding outgoings. So there is no need for this government to cut pensions.

3. Ordinary people are being made to pay to bail out the banks. The UK government's proposals to have ordinary workers pay an extra 50% on their pensions contributions is nothing more than a pensions tax to bail out the banks.

Decent pensionThis money will not even go into pension funds. IT WILL GO STRAIGHT INTO THE TREASURY. Yet again people like us, on modest wages are being made to pay for a crisis that we didn't create, whilst the government happily cancelled the bankers' bonus tax which could have raised 3billion.

This could also affect the viability of our pensions schemes as people think twice before joining a pension scheme that requires them to pay so much extra for a pension that will be worth less.

The Scottish Government has decided not to make Local Government workers in Scotland pay extra but it will make our colleagues in health, teaching and other pension funds pay more because the UK Government will dock their budget if they don't. We need to put down a marker to make sure that the extra increase is not visited on us down the line.


4. Cutting public sector pensions won't make private sector pensions better. In fact it will just make it harder to win pensions justice for all. That's why our colleagues in private sector trade unions are supporting our action.

I'm taking action on 30 NovPrivate sector pensions used to be better than the public sector but were eroded by Margaret Thatcher's government. We mustn't support a race to the bottom.

The real pensions divide is between the final salary pensions of those at the top of big business and the rest of us and the gap is getting wider. Whilst public sector workers' wages are frozen, boardroom pay went up by almost 50% this year.

5. We need to take action not just for ourselves, but for our children and our grandchildren. If we lose our entitlement to decent pensions it will be very difficult to get it back and the people who will suffer most are future generations of workers.

It's for the weansPlans to make us work longer will not only affect the quality of our lives when we get older, but will also mean fewer jobs for young people.

Already, for the first time in generations, our children are likely to have a poorer standard of living than their parents. The gap between rich and poor has increased rapidly over the last two decades and unless we start to take action, this trend will continue and our children will pay the price.

6. Now is the time to stand up and be counted. If the UK government thinks it can get away with making us pay more for our pensions, and making us work longer, for a poorer pension at the end of it then it will come back for more.

Already public service workers have suffered a wage freeze and cuts to jobs and services at the same time as the price of basics like food and fuel is rocketing.

We need to tell this government that enough is enough. We won't be pushed around on our pensions too.

Take action today for fairness tomorrow. Stand up for pensions justice.