Public sector pensions and 'gold-plated' remark spark debate

15th October 2010 at 01:00

Our key priority, in relation to our members' pension schemes, is to make sure that they 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.

It is only right that the report recognises that public sector pensions are not gold-plated. We are pleased that Lord 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 the RPI (retail price index) to the CPI (consumer price index) to calculate pensions.

Public sector workers already pay a sizeable amount into their pension schemes. Council workers, including home carers, librarians, social workers and dinner ladies, pay in 6.4 per cent of their wages, while NHS workers pay an average of 6.6 per cent.

It is time the Government paid attention to the private sector, where two- thirds of employers don't pay a penny towards their employees' pensions, forcing taxpayers into picking up a massive long-term benefits bill.

Dave Prentis, general secretary, Unison, Glasgow.

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