As a member of UNISON I am supporting today’s strikes.
Two million employees in the National Health Service, central and local government together with teachers and lecturers will come out today fighting for their pensions.
And they are in the right. The government is trying to take away the pension entitlement these workers thought they were going to get. In other words, the government is breaking a contract.
Even under the most recent proposals the lowest paid will not be protected – they will still be forced to work longer and see their pensions devalued.
The government has said that workers earning less than £15,000 will not pay any extra contributions – this is quite simply not true.
Despite claims by the government, those within 10 years of retirement will still face paying extra pensions contributions.
Employees who would normally never strike are so angry that they are foregoing pay to show the government what they feel.
I too am angry – angry that public sector workers are seeing their pensions cut as part of the government’s austerity programme. It seems that our valuable nurses, dinner ladies and bin-men are fair game while greedy bankers get off scot free.
And the government is kidding itself if it thinks the majority of the British people support its attack on our public services. A BBC poll published a couple of days ago showed that 61 per cent of the population thinks public sector workers are justified in going on strike over pension changes.
Today’s action is being supported by over 20 trade unions representing public sector workers across the whole range of employing organisations. The top civil servants’ union, the First Division Association, will be demonstrating alongside UNISON NHS orderlies.
The full list of unions participating in the day of action is:
Aspect - representing professionals in children's services. Association of Educational Psychologists Association of Headteachers and Deputies in Scotland Association of Teachers and Lecturers Chartered Society of Physiotherapists Educational Institute of Scotland FDA – represents senior civil servants and tax collectors GMB – general union with members in government, local councils and health service. Immigration Service Union Irish National Teachers Organisation NAPO - probation officers NASUWT – teachers union National Association of Head Teachers National Union of Teachers Northern Ireland Public Services Alliance POA – prison workers are banned from striking, but general secretary Steve Gillan told the Trades Union Congress they would take unofficial action. In a consultative ballot members voted 97% to oppose the pension changes Prospect – representing many professional and specialist civil servants Public and Commercial Services union Rail, Maritime and Transport union Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union – Irish general union with members in public services inNorthern Ireland Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists Society of Radiographers Transport Salaried Staffs' Association Union of Construction, Allied Trades, and Technicians Unison – the biggest union in local government and the NHS Unite – biggest general union inBritain andIreland, with members in government, health and local councils University and College Union