UNISON Scotland has begun a campaign of targeted strike action, calling on SNP government not to apply Treasury-imposed increases to staff pension contributions from 1st April


UNISON health workers are on the second day of a 48 hour strike over pensions cuts in Scotland.

It is the first in a series of targeted actions across the NHS north of the border, aimed at forcing the SNP government to negotiate a reduction in staff contribution rates under the new career-average pension scheme being introduced from 1st April.

UNISON rep at the Ayrshire Central Hospital, Elaine McLeod (pictured, left) told UnionNews: “It’s to let the government know we’re serious about this.

“It’s the whole issue around the pensions – the length of time we’ll need to work. I can’t imagine anyone working in my unit at 68.”

The specialist sterilisation unit where the strikers are based was opened by the Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon last week.

Ayrshire and Arran Branch Secretary Ewing Hope said: “She was happy to meet the staff then, have the plaudits, have the photo opportunities. This week, she’s chosen to ignore us.

“Rather than come to us and discuss the pensions issue, she’s decided to put the legislation through the Scottish Parliament on the same day.”

UNISON Scotland is preparing a series of targeted strikes among its 50,000 health members across the country.

Officials say Scottish ministers have the power to vary the rate of staff contributions.

The union estimates it will cost the government £42m not to impose the increase – worth up to 2.4% of staff salary in some cases.

It says that is effectively a pensions tax on health workers.

UNISON Scottish Secretary, Mike Kirby (pictured) told UnionNews: “We know how much can be saved in the running of the health service to offset this.

“We believe we can sit down with the Scottish government and examine the books and find alternatives to this.”

Further action is expected in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Lanarkshire, beginning on 27th March – 24 hours ahead of the scheduled date for a second UK-wide strike by unions which have rejected the Coalition government’s proposed pension cuts.

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