Unions attack new offer in public pensions row

A packed Barkers Pools for the TUC day of action over pensions
A packed Barkers Pools for the TUC day of action over pensions
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TRADE unionists representing South Yorkshire health workers have said the Government’s new offer on pensions ‘missed the point’.

Under the new proposals - which aim to stop a repeat of last week’s strike - full-time NHS staff earning between £15,000 and £26,557 would be spared any rise in pension contributions for one year.

But high-earning staff, such as doctors and two-thirds of nurses, would be expected to contribute even more.

Negotiations between the Government and unions continue, but Sheffield representatives said the offer was insufficient and misleading.

Charlie Carruth, Unison regional organiser representing 7,500 Sheffield nurses, administrative staff and other health workers, said: “The Government has missed the point. For a start, this only protects workers for one year - we don’t know what they are going to do after that.

“People didn’t go out on strike for a 12-month stay on the plans. It also doesn’t get to the heart of the issue, that NHS workers in Sheffield don’t want to pay more in to get less back.”

Joan Keane, GMB union’s regional health lead, said: “Andew Lansley’s announcement shows the Government has no intent to proceed with meaningful negotiations.”

Trade unionists representing council staff, whose offer has not been improved, said the offer revealed the Government’s ‘divide-and-rule politics’. Mark Keeling, Unite convener for Sheffield Council workers, said: “Our members will be sick to the stomach when they realise the Government is sneaking around trying to bribe some public sector workers and pitting them against others.”

The Royal College of Nursing - which did not take part in the November 30 strike but has threatened to ballot its 9,500 South Yorkshire members in January if the Government does not come up with a better offer - also criticised the proposals. The British Medical Association also said the offer was not good enough.