Unite health service members to join demos during M28 strike

by - 20th March 2012, 11.07 BST

Unite’s NHS members will be staging workplace protests on 28 March over the government’s proposed pension cuts, but will not take part in strike action on that day.

The announcement follows a consultative ballot in which more than 94% voted to reject the pensions’ package.

The turnout in the ballot was 25%.

Unite has around 100,000 members in the health service.

Unite’s General Secretary, Len McCluskey said: “This emphatic rejection of the proposals should send a clear signal to ministers that they need to return to the negotiating table for genuine and meaningful talks.

“The idea that a nurse or paramedic lifting patients at the age of 68 is unacceptable.

“Members will be taking their message out to their workplaces and communities on 28 March and we will continue to work with other unions on taking the campaign into the spring and beyond.

“The public sector pension plans have little to do with affordability and everything to do with bringing down the deficit caused by the banking elite.”

Unite says members are angry that the Department of Health had already printed up material showing the new contribution rates from 1 April this year before the consultation process had ended.

Unite’s concerns centre on three areas:

the linking of the NHS pension age to the rising state pension age – which is set to rise to 68 and beyond. Staff in many key roles doubt their capability to maintain high quality care at these ages

    most Unite NHS members will see their pension contributions increased from 6.5 per cent to 9.3 per cent over the next three years; this coming after a two- year pay freeze and the proposed two years of one per cent increases

    the proposed new scheme will deliver considerably less pension when members retire, or a pension paid only for a much shorter retirement, and pensions during retirement will be further reduced due to lower Consumer Price Index (CPI) indexation

Unite’s announcement comes less than 24 hours after PCS said it would not take part in the proposed 28th March strike – which will include action in London by NUT members and national action by UCU.

Teaching unions say any decisions on escalating industrial action to a coordinated UK-wide strike will be made by their annual conferences next month.