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McLaughlin calls on Attwood to publish his Pension contribution proposals.

22 November, 2011


Sinn Féin’s Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (South Antrim) has called on Environment Minister Alex Attwood to publish his proposals on Pension Contributions that he claims wouldn’t cost a penny to implement.

Mitchel McLaughlin said:

“During the course of a debate on Radio Ulster this morning Alex Attwood indicated that he had ‘Tabled’ alternative proposals to the Executive that would mitigate the effects of the British governments demand for increased public sector pension contributions. On checking with my party colleagues on the Executive they are unaware of any such proposals.

“Alex Attwood raised objections last August but has yet to bring forward any alternative proposals.  I welcome the commitment from Alex that he will bring forward the proposals that he said he has that would not cost the Executive ‘one penny’. It would be a very foolish Executive that would refuse to consider such a cost free alternative, so bring it on!

“The British government has made it clear that unless the Executive implements its demand for increased contributions it will deduct an additional £100 million per year from our block grant. Sinn Féin’s alternative would exempt those earning less than £32,000 from any additional contributions, with those above that threshold making graduated increased contributions according to pay scale.

“Sinn Féin believes that this is the best way to protect both public services and public sector workers. We have asked that the Department of Education, the largest spending Department administered by Sinn Féin to pilot a consultation process with the Unions and the public to measure support for our proposals. I welcome the acknowledgement on the same programme this morning from Bumper Graham that the Union dispute is with the Coalition government in London and not with the Executive. I hope that the Unions give serious consideration to our proposals.

“I am calling on Alex Attwood and any other Minister who may have proposals to produce them for consideration so that we can find a way forward that will minimise the impact on low paid workers and protect public services. It is not sufficient to say that you oppose the increased contributions and voice concerns about workers unless you can bring forward alternative ideas on where we can find the £100 million per year that will otherwise be lost to our block grant.

“If Alex Attwood has proposals that would resolve the situation and will not cost the Executive ‘one penny’ then it is incumbent on him to bring them forward as a matter of urgency so that we can avoid the mass disruption expected by strike action on November 30th

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