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"Defend our pensions" UNISON members insist
THE PUBLIC sector union UNISON has extended the deadline for its consultative ballot about pensions to 21 January. The ballot, over action to defend the local government pension scheme, is already showing a majority for action in many areas.
Government plans mean an increase in contributions equal to a 1% pay cut. No worker could retire before they're 65 without suffering a cut in their pension.
Pensions will only be based on basic salary, with no account of overtime or weekend payments. This will affect the lowest-paid the most.
Most local government workers will retire in greater poverty, but the average pension now is just £3,000 a year.
Peter Dunn, vice chairperson of Wear Valley branch, recently sent a circular to UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis, a number of other national officials and some local activists.
These extracts show UNISON members' anger at the attack on their pensions:
"I have to ask whether UNISON has explored or intends any other action [apart from strike]. The following action has been suggested:
1. Withholding all UNISON donations to the Labour Party.
2. The direct sponsorship of MPs sympathetic to the public sector cause.
Under the current circumstances I cannot believe that UNISON members will want any of their subscriptions to be donated to the Labour Party and I ask whether the forthcoming Political Fund Ballot will allow members to determine how the Fund is used? Under the current arrangement who controls the Affiliated Political Fund and who would make the decision to withhold payment, is it UNISON officers or is it members?
3. Making use of the forthcoming general election by politicising the pensions campaign. This government will be counting on a lot of votes and voluntary help from local government officers, all of which is under threat because of its attack on our pensions.
The above action has been suggested in previous emails, however the silence from UNISON has been deafening. May I remind UNISON that it represents the interests of its members and not the 'Labour' government. Has a deal been done to help the government win a third term... at the price of our pensions?
...On a personal note, I have voted Labour all of my life but not any more, unless the government stops this attack on our pensions. I wonder just how many other local government officers feel this way."
In The Socialist 22 January 2005: