Strike action set to hit Galloway

DUMFRIES and Galloway’s public sector workers are set to strike on 30 November - St Andrew’s Day - over pension plans which will see them work longer hours for less pay and higher tax.

NHS and council staff voted in favour of national strike action, which will not affect the region’s schools at it fall on an in-service day.

But with almost three million workers set to strike, the public are concerned about the impact it may have on other vital services.

Government plans will see workers almost double what they put into their pensions and 82 percent on NHS staff voted yes to the strike, yet only one in three of the workforce voted.

A council spokesperson said: “We are seeking exemptions from strike action for some employees such as social work, home care, Care Call and Meals on Wheels so that the most vulnerable are cared for.”

And an NHS spokesman said they would be working closely with trade union colleagues to ensure core services are provided.

The British Medical Association said this week: “The Scottish Government is consulting on a pensions contributions increase which it says it does not support, but which it has no alternative but to implement. In fact, the UK Treasury has made it clear that the Scottish Government could avoid introducing the contributions increase if it could raise the necessary funds elsewhere, but the Scottish Government has made little attempt to identify any alternative that does not financially penalise public sector workers.”

Chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, challenged Britain’s trade union leaders to accept the new deal, which could be withdrawn if a further round of strikes takes place.

Alexander told MPs he was revising his plans in two key ways:

• The “cost ceiling” will be increased by eight percent on the previous offer. This means that the accrual rate – the percentage of salary earned as a pension every year – will be based on one-sixtieth of an average salary rather than the initial sixty-fifth.

• The full introduction of the reforms will be delayed by seven years. Under the original timetable, the changes were due to be introduced by 2015. Alexander gave a commitment on Wednesday that anyone within 10 years of retirement on 1 April next year will not see any reduction in their pension pot. This means the changes will not come into full effect until April 2022.