UNISON condemns ‘Swinney Tax’ on NHS workers

UNISON Scotland condemned the “Swinney Tax” on NHS workers today, as the Scottish Government published consultation proposals to increase employee pensions contributions for the second year – with a further increase to come in 2014. 

This Swinney tax means employee pension contributions would rise on average by 3.2 % of salary over that 3 year period. 

Tom Waterson, chair of UNISON Scotland Health Committee said:
“The SNP government had a clear opportunity to avoid passing on this swingeing financial burden to workers in NHS Scotland. UNISON made constructive proposals to avoid this UK Treasury levy being passed on and keep Danny Alexander’s long fingers out of the pay packets of our members. 

“Unfortunately, the Scottish Government has chosen to adopt this measure – it is now the ‘Swinney Tax.’” 

The NHS Superannuation Scheme has historically operated in surplus and there is no ‘black hole’ to plug. Monies collected from this pensions levy will not go into the NHS pension pot, and members of the scheme will see no additional benefits to them of these added costs. Instead, the levy will go directly to the Treasury as part of austerity measures to address a financial crisis – one which was not caused by NHS workers, but by casino bankers. 

Wille Duffy, lead UNISON official for Health said,
“All our Scottish health branches will meet early in the new year to discuss how we respond to this latest wave of pay cuts for health workers. UNISON Scotland ran industrial action in 2012 in response to the first year of these increased charges and we will discuss our 2013 response in February.” 


For further information please contact:

Tom Waterson, chair of UNISON Scotland Health Committee – 07753 627 575
Willie Duffy, UNISON Scotland lead organiser for Health – 07904 342 129
John Gallacher, Scottish Organiser – 07904 342 426
Malcolm Burns, Communications Officer, UNISON Scotland – 0141 342 2877 or 078765 66978

Notes for editors:

1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union and represents around 50,000 members across all sections of the Scottish NHS workforce (except doctors).

2. The UK Treasury announced as part of the 2010 Spending Review to raise £6 billion by 2015 (£0.5 billion in Scotland) from increased contributions across ‘pay as you go’ public sector pensions schemes (NHS, civil service, teachers, etc). This equates to 3.2% average for individuals over period 2012-5.

3. 2011 saw agreement in England & Wales to a ’new’ pensions agreement in the NHS ,including increased contributions. Negotiations have taken place without success in Scotland throughout 2012 with the Scottish Government  to seek to find a Scottish solution. UNISON took industrial action across the UK in November 2011 on this issue and selective action in spring 2012 in NHS Scotland Boards (Greater Glasgow and Clyde; Lothian; Lanarkshire; Ayrshire and Arran).