Strike called off as unions reach pensions plan truce with Prescott

Unions representing 1.4 million council staff called off a
24-hour strike this week after an agreement with John Prescott over
changes to the local government pension scheme.

After three weeks of intensive talks, the deputy prime minister
announced he would revoke proposed changes to the scheme.
The changes would have come in on 1 April, a year earlier than for
other public sector schemes.

The minimum pension age for local government workers would have
been raised from 50 to 55 for reasons other than ill health.

And the retirement age would have gone up from 60 to 65, except in
cases of ill health or redundancy, marking an end to the “85-year
rule”. This allows members to retire early on a full pension if the
sum of their age and the number of years they have been in the
scheme is 85 or more.

Prescott announced he would revoke the regulations at “the earliest
parliamentary opportunity” subject to statutory consultation with a
new committee comprising employers, workers and the

In a statement to the TUC, work and pensions minister Alan Johnson
revealed that the prime minister had agreed that the government
needed time “to get this right” and had handed him the task of
making a “fresh start” with the unions.

Unison, GMB, T&G, Amicus and Ucatt welcomed the move.

Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary, said: “Our objectives over
the past three weeks have been to get negotiations going on
pensions – something we never had before – and to get the 2004
order lifted. We have achieved both those objectives and now we
look forward to entering real negotiations about the future of the
pension scheme.”

Welcoming the peace deal, Jack Dromey, T&G deputy general
secretary, said: “Now we can negotiate a sensible, long-term
solution, ensuring security and dignity for the nation’s public

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