Speaking at the Pensions Meeting on 14th July at the Beach Ballroom, Aberdeen, UNISON Scottish Secretary, Mike Kirby said that pension scheme members face a "double, double whammy."
Not only will our pensions go down by 15% with pension increases being pegged to the lower Consumer Price Index from the Retail Price Index; not only will our pension age go up from 65 to 68; not only will we have to pay 50% more in contributions; but that money won't even go into our pension schemes but will go straight into the treasury.
"This is purely a pension tax to pay back the bankers," said Mike. "The government's strategy is clear. They want us to pay more, work longer and get less when we retire."
The meeting heard from a range of speakers including Mike Middleton from the GMB and Bill Castles from Unite, both of whom urged us to fight for our pensions. "If you wish a future of eat or heat then do nothing," said Mike. "But if you want a future of dignity in retirement then get out there and take action," he urged.
We also heard from two of UNISON's retired members, Renee Townend and Louisa Low. Both paid into the pension scheme from as soon as they were able because they wanted a decent retirement. Renee spoke of how she is living on a pension of £4000 - "hardly gold-plated" and her state pension. "Having my pension means I don't have to claim benefits so I'm saving the government money," she said, pointing out that reducing pensions makes no sense and will result in the less well off needing to rely on benefits.
Louisa added that both also pay tax on their pensions. "The government forgets that pensioners are tax payers too," she said. "Not only do I not claim benefits but I also contribute to the economy through my taxes."
Colin Jones of the Universities Branch told the meeting that he felt betrayed. He was always told that it was the right thing to contribute for a decent pension and despite having a young family, and money being tight, he had always followed this advice. Now the government is telling us to pay more, work longer and get less.
Finally, psychiatric nurse Emma Watt told the meeting of her concerns about her ability to do her job aged 68. She described the government's attacks on our pensions as "the final insult."
"We must stand together and tell this government that our pensions are not up for grabs."
There was a question and answer session that challenged the myths which the government is spinning and the media is perpetuating.
Mike ended by urging all those attending to go out and do our bit to challenge these myths and to convince the public and even some our members of these arguments in the face of misleading and sometimes hostile media information.