Treasury Secretary, Liberal Democrat Danny Alexander yesterday appealed for workers to scab on the November 30 public sector pensions strike.
He told the Andrew Marr show: ‘I don’t want these strikes to go ahead.’
He claimed: ‘I think that the government’s been negotiating hard for the last eight months with the trade unions.
‘We made a significant new offer to public sector workers earlier this week. I set it out to the House of Commons in terms of the more generous pension arrangements that we’re willing to offer to resolve this.’
Asked if the government has backed down, Alexander said: ‘No, I don’t think that’s the case at all.’
He added: ‘I think in a sense the most important people here are not the trade union leaders.
‘They’re the individual nurses, teachers, civil servants. This week and over the next couple of weeks we’ll be communicating directly to 2.5 million public servants across this country to explain to them directly what it is the government is offering.
‘I think in a sense in those people’s hands is the decision about whether or not to go on strike, in those people’s hands is the influence on the unions.’
He was asked: ‘So you’re going over the heads of the unions with that, are you?’
Alexander replied: ‘I think most of the unions, the moderate unions, want to reach an agreement, but there are some who seem desperate, hell-bent if you like, on strike action.
‘And what we need to make sure is that the interests of public servants are not set aside in the interests of trade union leaders who want to go on strike.’
ATUA National Secretary Dave Wiltshire commented: ‘Alexander is deluded if he seriously believes that this action is being driven by the leadership of the public sector unions.
‘They have been dragged reluctantly into calling this action by a membership that is facing having its pension contributions increased by a half, forced to work years longer before reaching retirement age and all for a pension that has been cut to the bone.’
Wiltshire stressed: ‘It is the membership that is demanding its organisations fight for the basic right to a decent pension.
‘Alexander, of course, is not that deluded.
‘He knows full well that these leaders are looking for a way out and this appeal over their heads directly to the membership is designed to put more pressure on them to cave in at the earliest possible opportunity.’
He added: ‘The government is relying on these union leaders that Alexander is calling “strike happy” to head off the strike and reach some rotten compromise.
‘There is no army of strike breakers out there ready to heed his call for workers to “work harder and contribute more” just to keep the banks in profit.
‘Workers will reject this attempt to split and divide the movement.
‘They must demand that all talks be broken off with this government and that the TUC immediately prepare for a campaign for an all-out general strike to bring down this government.’