Civil servants attack scale of pension payments rise
The 30,000 Scottish civil servants affected by the UK government's plans to save 1.2 billion next year were yesterday told that how much extra they will be expected to pay in pension contributions from April 2012.
Employees such as tax office workers, job centre plus and court staff could see their existing pension contributions go from the current rate of 1.5 per cent to as much as 3.9 per cent under the changes set-out in a government documents yesterday.
The UK government said that all the 2,200 Scottish civil servants earning under 15,000 will be unaffected, but official figures revealed that 23,800 other public sector employees in the country paid between 15,000 and 21,000 will see their pension contributions go up from 1.5 to 2.1 per cent. Another 4,000 earn above 21,000.
Under the plans, public sector employees earning 21,000 to 30,000 would see their contribution go up from, 1.5 per cent to 2.7 per cent, while those paid between 30,000 and-50,000 would see their pension contributions more than double to 3.1 per cent.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander yesterday outlined the changes, which the Tory-Lib Dem coalition government says are needed to tackle the deficit and create a "fairer balance" over the funding of public sector pensions.
But Cheryl Gedling, a PCS union organiser in Scotland, said that the "vast bulk" of civil servants in the country, who also include passport staff and prison workers, were paid less than 30,000.
She said: "The UK government says that no-one earning less than 15,000 will pay extra contributions, but 15,000 is very low pay and most of our members earn above that.
"The vast bulk of our members earn less than 30,000, but from next April they'll find themselves paying significantly more, with some people paying more than double their current contributions."
The union official said that it was "difficult to see" how the union could "avoid" taking part in further strike action this autumn over the dispute.
Members of the PCS union in Scotland joined teachers in England and Wales last month in protest at the pension shake-up, which would see the contributions paid by those earning between 50,000 and 60,000 rising from 1.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent.
The contribution rate for employees earning more than 60,000 would go from 1.5 per cent 3.9 per cent.
Mr Alexander promised that the "lowest paid will be protected", as he announced 12 weeks of consultation on the pension changes.
Speaking yesterday, he said: "Today, the government will take the latest step towards setting public service pensions on a sustainable path."Departments will start consultations on the extra contributions nurses, teachers and civil servants will make to their pensions next year.
"Under the agreement that unions reached with the government in 2009, contributions increases next year were expected. But because these are difficult times for everyone, public sector workers included, we are ensuring that those with the broadest shoulders will bear the greatest burden.
"The lowest paid will be protected, and the highest paid will face the biggest increases."