date: 29 November 2011
embargo: 00.01hrs Wednesday 30 November 2011
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barberwill today (Wednesday) say that the government has scrapped the bankers' bonus tax and replaced it with a teachers', nurses' and lollipop ladies' tax.
Speaking at a rally at the Birmingham Indoor Arena Brendan Barber will say: 'On this unprecedented day, when 30 unions have members taking action together, we are sending a crystal clear message to the government that we are strong, that we are united, and that our campaign will go on until we secure justice and fairness for every public servant.
'Let's be clear. Of course people never take industrial action lightly. Nobody wants to forsake a day's pay when the cost of living is high, and nobody wants to inconvenience the public and other working families. But when unfairness is piled on injustice you are right to take a stand and I am proud to stand with every single one of you.
'Ministers keep saying that all they want is to secure the long-term affordability of public service pensions. Sounds reasonable enough doesn't it? But that is not the real story. The brutal truth is simply this - that the living standards of millions of low and medium-paid public service workers are being hammered in the name of reducing the deficit.
'The cuts are beginning to scythe through our public services, more and more jobs are under threat, and as the pay freeze bites - while inflation roars ahead - real wage cuts are making it harder than ever to make ends meet.
'We found out yesterday that the government is to step up the attacks on public sector staff with a continuing pay cap and pay variation at a local level - and I don't think they mean better.
'This is on top of an increase in the state pension age for anyone under 40 - a toxic triple that will do nothing to get the economy moving again, but will simply hit consumer confidence.
'On top of that they are coming for your pensions. Meanwhile those who caused the crisis are getting off scot-free.
'This is a government that scrapped the tax on bankers' bonuses. Instead they are asking millions of public sector servants to pay higher contributions that won't go into their pensions, but will go into paying off the deficit. They have scrapped the bankers' bonus tax and replaced it with a teachers', nurses' and lollipop ladies' tax.
'So today let's nail the lies that are peddled about public service pensions. They are not gold-plated - half of public service pensions in payment today are less than £5,600 a year. In local government half of pensioners get less than £3,000.
'They are not unsustainable or unaffordable. Big changes were accepted only five years ago to reduce the cost. As the National Audit Office, the Public Accounts Committee, and even Lord Hutton in his report have shown, the costs - as a share of our national wealth - are actually set to fall over coming decades, not to increase.
'There is no justification either for the higher contributions demanded by the Chancellor. If you need to raise extra money what about tackling the £10 billion given out each year in pensions tax relief for the richest one per cent of the population?
'Some commentators and cynical politicians try to divide public service workers from private sector workers. We shouldn't be divided and we won't be divided. Our battle in the trade union movement is for decent pensions for everyone. If this attack on decent public service pensions succeeds that won't help people in the private sector one iota. In a race to the bottom we are all losers.
'Let me finish by saying this - I want to settle this dispute through negotiation, so that we can avoid further industrial action. But that needs the government to come to the table prepared to negotiate genuinely and fairly.
'Did they negotiate before they announced - entirely unilaterally - the change in pensions indexation from RPI to CPI, reducing the value of your pension at a stroke by 15 per cent? No they didn't. Did they negotiate before George Osborne announced - entirely unilaterally - contribution increases of over three per cent? No they didn't. Did they negotiate before they announced - entirely unilaterally - the two-year pay freeze? No they didn't.
'So now ministers say that they too want to resolve this without further industrial action - and further meetings are planned for the coming weeks. I hope they approach those talks in a genuine spirit of negotiation - because that's the only way this is going to be resolved.
'Today you're showing heart and courage and determination to win justice and fairness, so let that message ring out loud and clear - nothing else will do.'
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- Brendan will speak at rally at the Birmingham Indoor Arena which will be addressed by UNISON and NASUWT general secretaries Dave Prentis and Chris Keates, as well as by public sector workers from across the West Midlands. The rally takes place from around 1.30-3pm. Before speaking at the rally Brendan will visit a number of picket lines in the centre of the city including Handsworth Library at approximately 11.15am, and one at the City Hospital at around 11.45am.
- Media wishing to broadcast from the Birmingham International Arena should contact Tony Hayes [email protected] or 0121 644 7006.
- For more on the day of action visit www.pensionsjustice.org.uk
- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk
Liz Chinchen T: 020 7467 1248 M: 07778 158175 E: [email protected]
Rob Holdsworth T: 020 7467 1372 M: 07717 531150 E: [email protected]
Elly Gibson T: 020 7467 1337 M: 07900 910624 E: [email protected]
Issued: 30 November, 2011