Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said:
“Our key priority is to make sure that our members pension schemes, that they pay into all their working lives, remain sustainable and affordable and that there is no damaging race to the bottom. We will seek to maintain, using all means possible, the agreements reached two years ago to make our public service schemes sustainable and also protect existing members of the scheme.
“This is an interim report, and UNISON will continue making the case for public sector pensions throughout the course of the review.
“It is only right that the report recognises that public sector pensions are not gold-plated. We are pleased that Hutton recommends keeping a defined benefit scheme, but we are adamant that the final salary scheme should be retained.
“There is a real danger that taking a career average to calculate pensions will see the low paid getting less in their retirement – especially as the government has switched from using the RPI to using the CPI to calculate pensions.
“Public sector workers already pay a sizeable amount into their pension schemes year in, year out. Many of our members would struggle to pay more. Council workers, including home carers, librarians, social workers and dinner ladies, pay in 6.4% of their wages, while NHS workers pay an average of 6.6%.
“Plans to make public sector staff work until they drop will hit the low paid hard. For many public sector staff, working longer is not an option. Many nurses, home carers, paramedics and refuse collectors are already forced into early retirement because of the physical nature of their jobs, and the damage it does to their health.
“It is time the government turned their attention to the private sector, where two thirds of employers don’t provide a single penny towards their employees’ pensions, forcing taxpayers into picking up a massive long-term benefits bill.”
Download the UNISON response to the Hutton commission on public sector pensions – first phase (PDF)