Labour were condemned for letting the Tories off the hook entirely over punitive public sector pension reforms after the party failed to back an SNP and Plaid Cymru motion to debate the proposed changes following the November 30th day of strike by more than two million public sector workers.
The debate motion called for the UK Government to reverse unfair changes to public sector pensions –tabled in Westminster by the SNP and Plaid Cymru – and had been welcomed by a number of major trade unions and would have been the first since the UK Government announced its plans to reform pension.
Speaking after the vote, SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:
“Instead of uniting against these punitive reforms, it is incredible that Labour have chosen to let the Tories off the hook and let public sector workers down by sitting on their hands.
“The millions of workers who marched through the streets last week will be aghast that Labour MPs have refused to even walk through the lobbies for them.
“This was the first debate and vote since the UK Government announced its plans, and it should have been a moment when MPs from all parties united against these coalitions cuts.
“Labour are clearly not interested in the welfare of public sector workers. Despite having had thirty six debates to raise this issue, since the UK Government announced their plans, Labour has remained silent.
“It is also clear that these punitive reforms are all about the UK Government’s deficit reduction plans, and have nothing to do with securing sustainable pensions. The aggressive and arrogant threat to reduce the Scottish Budget if their reforms are not implemented proves that the Scottish Government has no option outside applying these increases and that the UK Government continues to have the power to meddle and influence issues which are central to the future of Scotland and which should be for the Scottish Government to decide.
“The need for affordable, sustainable and fair public sector pensions is of critical importance to everyone, which is why the short term cash grab by the UK Government is so concerning. Long-term pension reforms must be taken forward with consent and in partnership which is why it was so regrettable that UK Ministers appeared to relish strike action.
“The SNP will continue to will ensure that the voice of ordinary public sector workers is heard in parliament.”
Plaid Cymru Work and Pensions spokesperson, Hywel Williams MP, said:
“Last week’s Day of Action saw more than two million people express their concerns about the UK Government’s changes to public sector pensions and I am pleased that Plaid Cymru and the SNP brought those concerns to the House of Commons.
“These proposals mean public sector workers, who make up three in ten of the Welsh workforce, will work longer, pay more and receive less in their pensions.
“Sadly, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, who are making these changes, have been let off the hook by the failure of the Labour Party to stand up for public sector workers.
“That was only what we could expect from a party which did not support the Day of Action and have conspicuously failed to show active support for those who will be affected by these changes.
“We offered Labour MPs the opportunity to show their support for public sector workers – and they did not do so. I shall leave it to those workers to decide what that means.
““Plaid Cymru will continue to fight for fair pensions for everybody, including a living state pension and protecting workers.”