Unite delegate Bridey McCreesh gave an impassioned speech at conference on Monday (September 9), in defence of public sector workers and their hard-earned pensions.
Speaking in support of a composite on public service pensions, Bridey said it was right for the composite to condemn the “unjust and unfair decision of this government to deny public sector workers the reductions in contributions and pension benefit improvements that they have rightly earned”.
“Pensions are not some added luxury or some add-on bonus — they are deferred pay,” she said. “We expect not one penny more or one penny less than we have worked for.”
Bridey argued that the latest attack on public sector workers was “nothing less than a new front on the Tories’ decade long austerity offensive against public sector workers.
“That offensive has already cost 760,000 of our friends and colleagues their jobs and livelihoods,” she added. “Now the Tories have come for the pay and pensions of those who escaped their axe.
“It makes Sajid Javid’s talk of turning the page on austerity ring all the more hollow and false.”
Bridey went on to highlight situation in Northern Ireland, where she said problems were “even more acute”.
“It has now been two years and eight months since Northern Ireland has had a functioning executive,” she said. Throughout that time it has only been the sacrifice, hard work and good will of civil servants and public sector workers in local authorities which has kept government going.
“That goodwill is fast evaporating now that we know our pensions won’t be worth anything until a full forty years have been paid in.”
Bridey warned that “if lobbying and legal action are not enough then it is right that we step up the fight” – through coordinated industrial action.
She urged congress to support the motion, “not only to overturn the valuation suspension – but until the entire austerity offensive is defeated and reversed”.
The motion was carried.