Hundreds of Scottish health workers expected to take strike in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Lanarkshire against Treasury-imposed increase in pension contributions
UNISON is also preparing to lobby Members of the Scottish Parliament over plans to increase staff pension contributions by up to 2.4% – which the union describes as effectively a tax on health workers.
UNISON protesters will gather outside the parliament as the second wave of selective strike action gets underway in three health board areas across the central belt of Scotland.
Finance staff from in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Lanarkshire will be striking, while lunchtime demonstrations are scheduled at Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride, Wishaw General Hospital and Kirklands Hospital in Bothwell.
Lilian Macer, UNISON’s Scottish Convener, said: “We’re calling on MSPs to take a good look at NHS pensions and not to just blindly follow the UK Government’s proposals.
“We have a separate scheme in Scotland and therefore we need to seek a Scottish solution. Taking money out of health workers’ pockets to give to the Treasury is not the answer.
“As the Scottish Government has the responsibility to address these issues in Scotland, we’re calling upon Scottish Ministers to delay the pensions tax and engage with us to find a negotiated settlement.”
It is understood preliminary ‘talks about talks’ are due to take place tomorrow involving the SNP government’s Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon and unions representing health professionals.
However, senior UNISON officials say ministers must first move quickly to halt the planned increase – which is due to take effect from 1st April – and then make a commitment to open detailed talks on other changes to the NHS scheme.
They are also aware that any concessions gained in negotiations over the Scottish scheme will be carefully monitored – and may even be vetoed – by the Treasury and Whitehall.
School and university teachers are due to strike across London tomorrow (28th March) against the government’s proposed pension cuts. Unite members in the NHS in London are also expected to join lunchtime protests.
Tam Waterson, Chair of UNISON’s Scottish Health Committee, said: “The sad reality is that many of our members will not be able to afford these increases and will be forced to opt out of the pension scheme altogether.
“Our members don’t take strike action easily and this day of action is yet further testament to the anger and distress that is being felt among health workers.
“We’ve always believed public sector workers deserve decent pensions, and our members have shown they are willing to take action to defend these.”
Watch our film report on the first day of strike action earlier this month here:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.