November 23, 2011 1.54 pm This story is over 149 months old

‘We won’t stand for these attacks on our pensions’

On strike: The November 30 protest “is a last resort for the Unison members,” union branch secretary explains in interview.

Members of the University of Lincoln Unison Branch will be joining other trade unions for a rally in Lincoln on November 30, in an effort to protect their pensions.

Government proposals ask that public service workers work for longer and pay more, only to receive a lower pension.

Gwen Kemp, Branch Secretary for the University of Lincoln Unison Branch, said: “This day of action is a last resort for the Unison members. They do not wish to pay more, work longer and get less in their pension when they retire.

“Many of our members are not on very high salaries and we want to send a clear message to the government and our employer that we won’t stand for these attacks on our pensions.”

The rally comes as part of a nationwide protest in which over two million public service workers are expected to take part.

This will include nurses, teaching assistants, social workers, care assistants, paramedics, police staff, probation workers and education support staff.

Public service workers in the local government scheme voted 76% in favour of strike action over pensions.

“Our pensions are very important to us. When we retire, we don’t want to be on benefits. We pay into these pension pots, and we want to keep them as they are because they are sustainable,” said Kemp.

“I will fight for my pension, because I want to have something decent when I retire. I will go out on strike to try to get the government to sit up and listen to what we’re saying, and I will do it again and again until they listen.”

Members of the University of Lincoln Unison Branch will be manning picket lines around the University campus from 8am to 11am, before joining the TUC rally at Tentercroft Street car park at 11.30am.

Working longer for less

The government is changing the way that pensions keep up with prices. They will now use the Consumer Price Index (CPI), rather than the Retail Price Index (RPI), to measure inflation.

Because CPI is calculated differently, and leaves out some prices such as council tax costs, it cuts the value of public sector pensions by 15%.

Public sector pension contributions will increase by 3.2% of pay by 2015.

Part-time workers who earn less than £15,000, but whose equivalent full-time earnings work out as more than this, will also face an increase in contributions.

Low-paid local government workers have been stuck on a pay freeze for two years, despite rises in inflation.

The government also wants to increase the state pension age to 66 for men and women by 2020, meaning that almost everyone in the public sector will need to work longer before they can receive their full pension.

The current average pension in local government is around £4,000 a year, or £2,600 for women – just £56 a week.