Unions vow to fight pension reform plans

TWO OF the UK’s largest unions have lashed out at the government’s plans to review public sector pensions, accusing ministers of “peddling myths” and “scaremongering”.

Trade unions Unison and Unite have each spoken out against Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s plans to focus on public sector pensions, which he has called “gold plated” and argued are unfair to the private sector.

The government is to establish a special commission to focus on public sector pensions, with the Office for Budget Responsibility predicting the cost of public sector pensions to reach £9bn by 2014.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Only a few months ago, Clegg was warning that cutting public spending now would threaten the economic recovery. Now he is saying that public sector workers should pay the price for the bankers’ recession, with cuts to their pensions.”

Prentis said he believed that the government was trying to pit the public sector against the private sector and that the “pension myths are scaremongering”.

The average pension held by public sector workers is less than £5,000, according to both groups, which have argued that women receive an even smaller pension of roughly £2,600.

Assistant general secretary for public services at Unite, Gail Cartmail, called the review of public sector pensions “deeply ironic” and “very sad”.

She said: “We are not talking about gold-plated riches here, but modest pensions needed to help loyal public servants in their old age.”

● Office for Budget Responsibility predicts public sector pensions to reach £9bn by 2014.

● Average pension in local government is £4,000, according to Unison.

● Average pension is under £5,000, said Unite.