NHS pensions – Pay more, work longer and get less!

An NHS worker

The message that public sector workers are getting from this government is that we are not valued and that our work is not worth paying for. In the meantime directors in Britain’s top 100 companies have accumulated final salary retirement pots worth £2.8 million on average.

The majority of NHS employees are not high earners. The average NHS salary is £26,300 and some ancillary staff earn as little as £10,000 a year.

NHS employees will face having to meet the cost of increased pension contributions from our wages alongside a two-year pay freeze and the rising costs of living. Many will have no option but to drop out of the NHS pension scheme as it will become unaffordable.

The pension age has already increased from 60-65 for new NHS employees. In future the retirement age is to be linked to the state pension age of 68.

The bulk of NHS roles involve delivering care to physically and mentally vulnerable people. Even younger staff struggle with the demands of providing full physical care for adults who are immobilised by illness or injury. Older workers may not have the strength to withstand increasingly harsh working conditions.

If the proposed changes to our pensions are pushed through, the bulk of NHS staff, who do all of the hard work and keep the NHS afloat, will be plunged into poverty on retirement. Many of us will find that we can’t afford to retire at all. Older workers will be forced to remain in NHS jobs. This will have the knock on effect of further depriving younger people of jobs.

In the large mental health trust I work for, the bosses know that staff are angry about attacks on pensions. There are already threats of legal action against our Unison branch if any “ballot is not carried out properly”. The bosses’ propaganda offensive has started and the pensions information available to health staff in my organisation is blatantly misleading in an effort to calm the storm.

Health staff won’t buy into the lie that NHS pensions are somehow different. We are public sector workers after all and we are getting the same grim news about cuts to our pay and our pensions as other public sector workers. It’s time for doctors, nurses and other health staff to stand in solidarity with other public sector workers.

If all the members of our branch took industrial action this would shut down mental health services across the whole of south London. Our service users, fellow workers and members of the public would support us if we took industrial action over pensions.

This pensions robbery should spark the beginning of a huge, coordinated and successful fightback that could bring this government of millionaires to its knees and give real power back to the working class.