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Dave Prentis, general secretary elect of Unison, has accused ministers of whipping up hysteria in the media over ea...
Dave Prentis, general secretary elect of Unison, has accused ministers of whipping up hysteria in the media over early retirement in the public sector.

He said: 'Why has the government charged ahead and leaked this report to the media without discussing it with the trade unions or consulting the unions, one day after we had all met together to iron out policy at the national policy forum?

'It is no coincidence that the government is trying to make the most of this story just in advance of the comprehensive spending review where we are asking for more resources to be pumped into our public services.

'We don't think the government should be allowed to get away with whipping up this hysteria and dumping blame on public sector workers in this way.

'If there is abuse of the system, it should be dealt with. We will work with anyone to make sure people's health is protected. But the fact is that those who retire early on ill health grounds have to go through a stringent medical and in many cases we have to appeal the decision. They would prefer to have their health and continue working.

'Those people who have been retired are not only the victims of stress, or violence or injury but are now victims of a whispering campaign to portray them as swinging the lead. The impression given is a slur against public sector workers, against the medical profession and against the trustees of pension schemes.

'For the past 20 years public sector workers have suffered job cuts and neglect. They are font line workers in stressful jobs, exposed to risk and injury. Many, many incidents of injury at work, particularly back injury among nursing staff, home care workers and refuse collection stafff, lead to permanent disability.

'The government should be requiring employers to introduce good occupational health schemes, introduce safer working practices and offer advice and redeployment, to prevent ill-health in the first place.'

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