Unions will strike unless agreement over pension reached

    Four of the five public sector unions pressing for a strike over
    government changes to their pension scheme have voted between 73
    per cent and 87 per cent in favour of action today,
    writes Maria Ahmed.

    The ballot results from Amicus, T & G, Ucatt and UNISON
    could lead to an initial one-day strike in councils across the UK
    on March 23 unless an agreement with the government can be
    reached,

    Ballots for GMB, the fifth union involved, are still being
    collected.

    The unions are still in talks with deputy prime minister John
    Prescott to try and reach an agreement over plans to raise the
    retirement age for public sector workers to 65 from April 1 this
    year.

    The government also plans to raise the minimum age at which a
    pension can be paid except for ill health from 50 to 55.

    The unions, which represent 1.4 million employees today
    described the talks last night with Prescott and national employers
    as “constructive”.

    Progress was made and further talks will go ahead early next
    week.

    Research by the unions has shown that many pension funds are in
    deficit, largely as a result of pension holidays taken by some
    councils in the early 1990’s.  

    The unions issued a joint statement today.

    UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “Our members who
    have paid their pension contributions week in, week out are very
    angry and are not prepared to accept changes by diktat. The average
    local government pension is just £3,800 a year – not a ‘fat
    cat’ sum.  Low pay within councils means low pensions.”

    Jack Dromey, T&G Deputy General Secretary, said: “T&G
    members have voted by a massive 84% majority to say no. Government
    and local government should now sit down with the trade unions to
    negotiate a sensible solution which ensures the long-term viability
    of a good pension scheme.”

     

     

     

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