Maude ‘snubs’ public sector pension protesters

JPCT 210412  PCS Union protest Madeira Avenue, Horsham. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 210412 PCS Union protest Madeira Avenue, Horsham. Photo by Derek Martin

PUBLIC sector workers said they felt snubbed by Horsham MP Francis Maude when they gathered outside his constituency office to protest against changes to pensions on Saturday April 21.

As part of a national campaign of targeting cabinet ministers, 25 members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) showed up with banners, placards and emblazoned t-shirts.

Chanting “Francis Maude pay attention we won’t let you cut our pension”, they congregated outside Madeira Avenue’s Gough House, Horsham Conservatives’ headquarters, before marching back to the station.

Keith Johnston, PCS regional secretary for London and the South East, said that the added pensions contributions, starting next month, were a kick in the teeth after a three-year pay freeze for many of his members.

He added: “People can afford it as we’re the sixth richest country in the world and public servants are already low paid. If we just allow pensions and pay to be reduced that will give the private sector an excuse to cut their pensions. We think fighting back is important for all the people in the country.”

Protesters also voiced their frustrated that Mr Maude had not engaged with them and said it was his duty to respond to his constituents’ concerns.

Mr Maude said: “Last month we set out our final proposed agreement on pension reform following over a year of constructive discussions with trades unions. This absolutely demonstrates our commitment that civil servants should continue to have access to pension schemes that remain among the very best available, whilst representing fair and affordable long-term reform.

“Civil servants are being asked to work a bit longer and pay a bit more, but will continue to receive a guaranteed pension which is index-linked and inflation-proofed. Most staff on low and middle incomes will receive a pension at retirement as good as what they expect today, and for many it will be even better.”

The PCS picketed other cabinet ministers on Saturday including Vince Cable, who did meet with protesters, Michael Gove and Iain Duncan Smith.

Mr Johnston also described the decision by George Osborne to lend an extra £10bn to the International Monetary Fund a day before as hard to stomach for public-sector workers.

Last week the PCS also announced its 250,000 civil and public sector members would be taking part in national strikes over pensions on May 10 and in June.