Public sector pension action tops agenda at Stormont

Sun, 04/12/2011 - 16:38 -- Editor

SDLP Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan has said the party’s support for those protesting public sector pension increases remains unwavering and will be stepped up in a key Assembly debate.

Speaking ahead of an SDLP-sponsored motion on the issue being discussed at the Assembly on Monday, he said: “The necessity for public sector workers to make their voices heardwas keenly felt when they took to the picket-lines last Wednesday to protest barbaric attacks on their pensions, and the SDLP backed them all the way.

“We are continuing to back them as we take the fight back to Stormont with a key motion on public sector pensions on the floor of the Assembly chamber.

“Our minister, Alex Attwood, was the only member of the Executive to vote against pension increases – a vote we are very proud of as a party. He also pointed out that NILGOSC pensioners should be exempt from any increase.

“We shall be reminding the DUP and Sinn Féin of this in the debate, as they voted to do the Tory-led Westminster government’s bidding in attacking the conditions of our public servants, particularly the 44,000 NILGOSC members, including fire officers and staff in education and transport.

“What is important to remember is that, were the Executive to refuse to implement NILGOSC pension increases, it would not cost the NI Budget a single penny – but this is a piece of simple arithmetic that has escaped the rest of the Executive.

“We are using this motion to call on the Executive to make a decisive and positive move to protect public sector pensions and support Alex Attwood’s demand that they reverse their September 22 decision to increase contributions on NILGOSC pensions.

“We recognise the economic difficulties we are in at present, and our representatives are working flat out to help nurse the economy back to health, but we will be standing shoulder to shoulder with hard-working public servants who only want a fair deal for a job well done.”