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Unions claim women will be hardest hit by pension changes


Summary of story in the Guardian, June 17, 2011

UK women will bear the brunt of the coalition government’s changes to public sector pensions as they make up nearly two-thirds of the workforce affected, according to union leaders.

All but the lowest paid will have to pay more into their pensions and retire later. Generous final salary pension schemes will be replaced by ones based on a career average of earnings.

However, the uniformed services – the male-dominated police, armed forces and firefighters – have been exempted from the rise in the public sector pension age.

Dave Prentis, the general secretary of Unison, which has 1.4 million public sector members, including nearly 1 million women, commented: “These proposals affect mainly women – cleaners, cooks, nurses, social workers, teaching assistants, nursery nurses, medical secretaries.

“The public services are run off the back of low-paid women in the main and they will be hit hardest on this. The average pension for women in local government is £60 a week – for men it’s £85 a week.”

The proposed changes are on top of a separate move to fast-track the raising of the state retirement age.

This has triggered a national campaign and a Liberal Democrat rebellion in the Commons with claims that 300,000 women in their 50s are being given just seven years’ notice of plans to delay their retirement by up to two years.

The issue will be debated in the Commons on Monday. More than 180 MPs, including 26 coalition MPs, have signed an early day motion against the plans.

For more WVoN discussion on how women will be affected by pension changes, click here.

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