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Unite publication challenges the 'myths' and misinterpretations' surrounding public-sector pensions

Trade union Unite has released a leaflet arguing 'deliberate repetition of myths' surrounding public sector pensions have to be addressed and challenged.

Unite has published Public Sector Pensions - Let's Set the Record Straight to combat what it sees as claims from the media, private employer bodies, right-wing lobbyists and opposition politicians claiming public sector pensions are out of control and need to be cut back.

Unite believes this is based mostly on ‘the misinterpretation of facts and the deliberate repetition of myths'.

The Union claims public-sector employees and employers both pay pension contributions. Benefits are all accounted and paid for, and not subsidised out of general taxation. The schemes are actually ‘funded,' but the funds are not visible as they are loaned to the Government.

It says the main reason costs are rising is simply because the number of pensioners is rising, not because pensions are being increased. And the Governments liability of £800 billion is a ‘completely artificial figure'.

Unite says all public-sector pensions are proportionate to pay, unlike the private sector where high earners get ‘top hat' schemes. To get a good pension, you need to have a long career in public service.

Contributions have been increased and the value of benefits reduced ­- for example, new starters now have pensions paid at the age of 65. Agreements are in place so that future cost increases will result in further reductions for employees.

Finally Unite maintains the Government is uniquely well-placed to provide pensions to its employees. It can provide pensions at a stable, long-term cost that is much lower than private-sector employers can manage. The cost to the Government is not expected to rise and so the schemes are sustainable and can provide good quality pensions going into the future.

Unite's assistant general secretary for the public sector, Gail Cartmail, said: "Unite feels very strongly that the intellectually threadbare arguments against public-sector pensions need to be exposed.

"In reality, the majority of the public-sector workforce will retire on modest pensions, only achieved by decades of service and years of paying increased contributions."