JUST AS LibDem Chief Secretary to the Treasury Alexander was thanking the TUC in the House of Commons yesterday claiming that the public sector pensions dispute is as good as over it rapidly emerged that this was far from the case.
The PCS, Unite, the GMB and most of the teachers unions were quick to distance themselves from the sell-out deal.
Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of Council at the BMA, said: ‘While we acknowledge that the government clearly states that this is their final offer, and whilst it is a modest improvement on their original proposals, we have not accepted it . . .
‘Doctors and medical students are still being asked to pay hundreds of thousands of pounds more for their pensions, and to work for longer . . .
‘We will be consulting our members early in the New Year to help determine our next steps.’
The GMB called conditions laid down by Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, a ‘deal-breaker’.
Brian Strutton, GMB National Secretary for public services said: ‘GMB in local government is reconsidering its position regarding the proposed heads of agreement in the light of the new conditions laid down by Eric Pickles today.’
Other trade unions, including the biggest civil service union – the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union – said they had definitely not signed up to the outline agreements.
The National Union of Teachers (NUT), the NASUWT, the University and College Union (UCU) and Welsh teaching union UCAC all said they would not sign.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said the government’s ‘unacceptable bullying’ will not deter the union’s members from standing up for what is right.
He said: ‘It is extraordinary how PCS members have been treated by this government, simply for saying they will not accept being made to pay more and work longer for tens of thousands of pounds less in their retirement.
‘This kind of unacceptable bullying will not deter union members from standing up for what is right, and opposing the government’s attempts to make them pay the price for a recession they did not cause.’
A Unite spokesman told News Line: ‘We will not be rushed by a timetable set by government.
‘We can say no more until our representatives have had the time to fully consider the government’s proposals.’
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said: ‘The NASUWT has not signed the DfE Heads of Agreement document and has reserved its position insisting on the need for further information to be provided, including on the equalities impact of the government’s proposed reforms to the pension scheme.’
LibDem Chief Secretary to the Treasury Alexander opened his statement by paying ‘tribute to the minister for the Cabinet Office, the TUC and the scheme negotiators’.
He claimed: ‘I am pleased to report to the House that Heads of Agreement have now been established with most unions in the local government, health, civil service and teachers schemes.
He added: ‘These heads of agreement deliver the government’s key objectives in full and do so with no new money since our November offer’ . . . they ‘will save the taxpayer tens of billions of pounds over the decades to come’.
He claimed that ‘we and the unions agree that this is the best outcome that can be achieved by negotiations.
‘This is the government’s final position and we will bring forward legislation to the House in due course.’