Unions demand pension change rethink

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Thousands of council workers are expected to stand on picket lines outside their own offices next Wednesday in protest at the Government’s planned pension reforms.

Falkirk Council’s headquarters at the The Municipal Buildings in West Bridge Street will be one key target as town hall employees demonstrate on St Andrew’s Day against what they claim are unjustified attacks on their pensions, pay and jobs. Abbotsford House in Bainsford and the council’s offices at Westfield Community Stadium are also expected to be part of a boycott planned by angry members of local authority union Unison.

Every school, community education facility, public library and One Stop Shop run by the council will be closed as a result of the nationwide day of action.

Major disruption is also expected to impact on social services and refuse collections while job centres, benefits offices and the Child Support Agency are also likely to close.

NHS Forth Valley is bracing itself for front line staff, including nurses and physiotherapists and its cooks and cleaners, withdrawing their labour while civilian staff working for Central Scotland Police are also not expected to be at their desks.

Last night (Wednesday) Gray Allan, secretary of the Falkirk Council branch of Unison, which has over 2000 members, said: “The intention is to have a high profile presence outside every major council building across the district which will involve Unison and every other public service union. This will be followed by a rally in St Frances Xavier Church hall at midday when speakers from the STUC will address members. We are hoping this day of action will win the support of the general public. The decision to strike has not been taken lightly. Our pensions are not a fortune, but we pay into them to secure a bit of decency and security in retirement.”

Allan Ewing, of the Forth Valley Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, said his members voted nine to one in favour of taking industrial action for the first time in 31 years.

He said: “It is essential we clearly illustrate exactly how we feel regarding the government’s plans to decimate our pensions. Physios in Forth Valley are furious.”

The Labour Group in the Scottish Parliament will vote today (Thursday) to cancel any business at Holyrood on November 30. Leader Ian Gray said: “We do so in support of the day of action being taken by the trade unions. We do not believe the Parliament should continue with business as usual while tens of thousands of workers take to the streets in protest at being asked to pay the price for a crisis they did not create. Labour Group members have signalled their intention to join the demonstrations and protests in their constituencies to support local people in their fight and I will be doing so also.”

Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary, said: “Labour’s Scottish MSPs’ decision to give a day of solidarity to Scotland’s men and women taking action for pension justice on November 30 is a tremendous boost.”