Mon 27 March 2006
Edinburgh Rally to be told pension cuts are a disgrace
Local government and other public service workers striking against
pensions cuts will be told at a rally in Edinburgh on Tuesday
28 March that government plans are a 'disgrace' and must be defeated.
Thousands of workers from a range of trade unions are expected
to rally at Edinburgh's Ross Bandstand at 1.30 after a March along
Princes Street starting at 12.30. The strike is expected to bring
transport to a halt, close over half of the city's nurseries,
many schools, most council buildings and affect refuse collection,
cleaning, environmental health, road services and social work
"We will have life and limb cover in place for themost vulnerable
but the scale of the strike will show just how essential all of
the jobs in local government are", said John Stevenson, Chair
of UNISON's Edinburgh Branch.
John Stevenson will chair the lobby and will be joined by Alex
McCluckie (GMB), Jimmy Farrelly (T&G), Sandra Kenny (STUC) and
Hugh Scullion (Amicus).
John Stevenson will tell the lobby: "Home carers, road workers,
refuse workers, social care workers, cleaners, social workers,
workers who protect our environment, our health and our safety,
who look after the most vulnerable, who educate who care and who
work damn hard to do all this - all of the essential jobs in local
government - forcing them to work till they drop, or take cuts
in the pensions they have paid into all their lives is not fair,
is not reasonable, is not in the interests of public services
- and is frankly a damn disgrace."
Further Information: UNISON office 0131 220 5655, John
Stevenson 07876 795 018
Full text of John Stevenson's speech follows:- PENSIONS
RALLY 28 MARCH 2006 EDINBURGH JOHN STEVENSON, CHAIR UNISON CITY
OF EDINBURGH BRANCH AND CHAIR UNISON SCOTTISH COMMUNICATIONS &
"This morning, several of us here went to St Andrews House
to see and deliver a letter to Tom McCabe, the Scottish Executive
Minister for Finance and Local Government Reform. The man who
says he's going to cut your pension rights in Scotland.
"Our letter told him that the arbitrary decision he made
about pensions undermined everything the Executive had said before
about valuing the work of local government staff, delivering first
class public services - very often in very difficult circumstances.
"We told him that it made us wonder if the Executive really
did value that work. We told him we had been open and transparent.
We had shown him our legal advice on the rule of 85. But he still
won't show us the advice he says contradicts this.
But it's not just our legal advice, it is also Cosla's - our
employers - this must be the first time we've been on strike and
our employers are 100% behind us!
"And we demanded that he abandon the plans to remove the
rule of 85 and give our members the common decency of being able
to actually get the benefits they've paid for over the years.
"And don't forget - we have paid our dues. We have paid
every week, every month into this pension fund - even when the
councils took a holiday and paid nothing for years.
"And can I save a word for the press? All the papers seem
to have suddenly found columnists ready to call local government
workers 'greedy' and 'lazy' and not in touch with the real world.
"Well I'll show you lazy. Fat cat pensions for top industrialists
that work a few hours a week in directorships? An index linked
MP or MSP's pension? Or a home carer dedicating their lives to
looking after others, being forced to work on rather than retire.
"What about greedy? Millions of pounds worth of golden handshakes
for top managers who are sacked for being crap at their jobs and
losing their companies millions. Or the average pension for our
women members of just £31 a week?
"And not in touch with the real world? Sitting in an air
conditioned office, travelling first class, getting a free car
and all sorts of tax breaks - or humping bins around at six o
clock in the morning and being told you'll have to do that till
you're 65 before you get the pension you paid for?
We are not lazy. We are not greedy and we are only too much in
touch with the real world of low wages, shortage of resources
and more and more pressures trying to deliver the best services
"Some of these columnists should get out a bit more and
they might find the real world right under their noses!
"Home carers, road workers, refuse workers, social care
workers, nursery nurses, cleaners, social workers, workers who
protect our environment, our health and our safety, who look after
the most vulnerable, who educate who care and who work damn hard
to do all this - all of the essential jobs in local government
- forcing them to work till they drop, or take cuts in the pensions
they have paid into all their lives is not fair, is not reasonable,
is not in the interests of public services - and is frankly a
"You've shown you think that too. You've shown you are prepared
to fight. And you've shown the politicians they've picked the
wrong fight here. "