John Swinney, Scotland's Finance Secretary, Criticises UK Government Pension 'Cash Grab'

John Swinney Strike

First Posted: 30/11/11 17:28 Updated: 30/11/11 17:28   PA

The Scottish Government has launched an attack on changes to public-sector pensions which saw about two million people strike across Britain in a day of action.

John Swinney, the Scottish Finance Secretary, led a debate at the Scottish Parliament while protesters were gathered outside the building in Edinburgh.

He defended the SNP administration's decision to cross picket lines to carry out parliamentary business and criticised the UK Government's approach to public-sector reform, accusing the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition of pursuing a cash grab.

In contrast to Prime Minister David Cameron's comment at Westminster that the strike appeared to be a "damp squib", Mr Swinney said the strength of feeling is clear.

He added: "That is a direct result of the manner in which the UK Government has pursued a cash grab to reduce the deficit, disguised as short-term pension reforms.

"I respect the right of public-sector workers to take industrial action. But I also believe that members of the public have a right to access public services, and they should be able to do that today.

"The priority for this government is the provision of affordable, sustainable and fair public-sector pensions for our public-sector workforce."

He added: "This government's concern is that the short-term cash-grab by the UK Government has undermined the opportunity to secure agreement around affordable, sustainable and fair public-sector pensions.

"This is a significant issue for the people of Scotland and the strength of feeling is clearly able to be detected amongst those outside of this parliament and those in communities the length and breadth of Scotland. Nobody will be unaffected by today's action."

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