The head of the UK’s largest social care union has told members to prepare for strike action over government plans to overhaul public sector pensions.
In his keynote speech to Unison’s annual conference in Manchester today, the union’s general secretary, Dave Prentis, described plans for a campaign of strikes “without precedent”.
He said: “The campaign we’re fighting isn’t just about pensions, jobs and pay; it’s about the kind of society we want to leave for our children.
“I ask you to find within yourselves the strength, resolve and courage to march on united, one million strong. If we do that, we will win.”
Unison has pledged to stand behind the teachers and civil servants going out on strike at the end of this month.
Around 750,000 members of the National Union of Teachers, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, and the Public and Commercial Services Union are expected to walk out on 30 June. They are protesting against proposals to increase their pension contributions and retirement age.
Unions have been negotiating with the government over the reforms, with both sides hoping to avoid strike action.
But Prentis and other union leaders reacted angrily last week when Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury, made a series of public announcements concerning the negotiations.
The government should have waited until official negotiations concluded before appearing to firm up policy on pensions, unions said. Alexander denied pre-empting the outcome of the talks.
What do you think? Join the debate on CareSpace
Keep up to date with the latest developments in social care. Sign up to our daily and weekly emails