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Unions say referendum shows a divided nation

Public sector trade unions said the historical vote for the UK to leave the EU showed how divided the country has become.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said the union would campaign to hold Leave campaigners to their promises about preserving workers’ rights and EU funding.

“This also has to be a time for our country to heal,” he said. “At its best the campaign has enabled genuine debate and discussion in our homes, workplaces and communities about the future of the economy and the kind of country we want to live in.

“At its worst, the campaign has been typified by hatred, vitriol and misinformation that have done a huge disservice to our democracy and values.   

“Over the coming weeks and months, all political leaders must think about how to address the issues that people in our communities care most about – falling incomes, insecure jobs, unaffordable housing and the huge challenges facing our public services after more than half a decade of cuts.”

Len McCluskey, leader of Unite, said the campaign has uncovered “real despair” in many communities across the country.

“Too many feel that they have been abandoned by a political class that is not interested in their concerns and has imposed upon them an endless, grotesque austerity programme,” he said. “Little wonder that millions of people expressed their frustrations in the only way that they could, which was to vote for fundamental change in our relationship with the European Union. Politicians must now respond appropriately and in a way that satisfies the genuinely held concerns of the public.”

Joanne Segars, chief executive of the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA), who wrote for the most recent edition of PSE on challenges facing the Local Government Pension Scheme, said that the result could have an impact on pensions.

She said: “Much will depend on the precise nature of our future relationship with the EU, which may mean that some aspects of UK pension provision continue to be influenced by the EU. In other areas, UK pension law may need to be disentangled from EU legislation.

“The PLSA will continue to play a leading role in ensuring the pension fund perspective is clearly heard and understood in the uncertain times ahead to ensure that the needs and interests of pension funds and millions of pension savers are protected.”

(Image c. Stefan Rousseau from PA Wire and Press Association Images)

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