The government has today (Thursday 28 July) made further announcements regarding their attacks on public sector pensions confirming what we have said all along: they want you to pay more and work longer for a smaller pension.
All of this despite the evidence clearly demonstrating that changes are not required.
They argue that there is protection for low paid workers. But this only applies to those earning less than £15,000 (only 4% of PCS members). Those who earn between £15,000 and £21,000 will pay 1.5% more and those above £21,000 will pay anything between 3% and 6%.
All of this at a time of a pay freeze, rising prices and no certainty about the future pension. Nearly all members will have to pay more, to work longer, and get a pension not as good as their current scheme.
The talks to date have been about public sector pensions in general. Now the government wants to move to talks about individual schemes. We are considering our approach to these talks and are discussing this with the other civil service unions. We need to be sure that these talks are real negotiations not just about implementing predetermined plans.
On 30 June members took strike action alongside members of three education unions. Other unions have already indicated that they are looking to join us in any further action. Unless the government engages in serious and honest negotiations, more public sector workers will be striking in the autumn. This will be critical to ensure the so-called consultation is taken seriously by government.
We know that our pensions are affordable and sustainable – indeed earlier in the week a senior cabinet minister, Andrew Lansley, said that the government’s proposals were wrong.
The government says this is about paying to tackle the deficit, but there is an alternative way that would prevent the need for the government to impose what is effectively an extra tax on working in the public sector.
Instead of targeting public servants, pensioners, students, disabled people and those entitled to welfare payments, the government should invest in jobs and public services to help our economy to grow and tackle seriously the £120 billion in taxes lost each year through tax evasion, avoidance and a lack of resources in Revenue and Customs.
Mark Serwotka Janice Godrich
General secretary President