Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Health union vows pension battle

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis has warned of industrial action over NHS reforms

The Government has been warned it faces the threat of industrial action by health workers over pensions as hundreds of nurses, paramedics, cleaners, cooks and therapists staged a protest against the controversial NHS reforms.

Unison members at their annual health workers conference in Liverpool voiced their anger at the Health and Social Care Bill, which the union pledged to help defeat.

General secretary Dave Prentis told the 1,000 delegates that ministers had "thrown a grenade" into the middle of healthcare.

He offered the union's full support to members to defend their service, their pay, their conditions and their pensions and he warned that Unison would not be afraid to take industrial action.

"I want to make this clear - if the Government tries to take away our pension schemes we will gear our union up for industrial action and we will stop them."

He accused Health Secretary Andrew Lansley of "gambling" with patients' lives by his plans to transfer £80 billion of funds to GP practices.

"I don't know about you, but when I go to my GP, I want my GP thinking about what's best for me, not what's best for his budget."

The Health Secretary on Monday announced a "natural break" in the Bill's progress through Parliament to deal with a number of concerns which have been raised, but Mr Prentis said Unison will continue campaigning against it.

"We cannot rest until the guts are ripped out of this Bill. Andrew Lansley talks about a natural pause, well I say - keep your dirty paws to yourself and keep your dirty paws off our health service."

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