the TUC declared yesterday that there has been no ‘real progress’ in pensions talks with the government and the ‘unions remain firmly committed to continuing their preparations for the planned day of action on November 30.’
The Tory-LibDem Coalition government’s pensions onslaught involves a huge increase in contributions, as public sector wages are cut or frozen, changing them from ‘final-salary’ to the inferior ‘career average’, ending their index-link with the RPI inflation measure and basing them instead on the inferior CPI measure, and upping the retirement age for both men and women to 66 by 2020.
The largest public sector union, Unison, announces the result of its strike ballot today and an overwhelming YES vote is anticipated.
Other public sector unions have balloted or are balloting up until 16th November and four million public sector workers are set to strike on 30th November.
Leaders of the TUC and major public sector unions met with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander and Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude yesterday morning.
Afterwards, Alexander made a statement in the House of Commons, saying: ‘This generous offer should be more than sufficient to reach agreement with the unions, but it is an offer that is conditional upon reaching agreement.
‘I hope on the basis of this offer the trade unions will devote their energy to reaching agreement and not to unnecessary and damaging strike action.’
He admitted: ‘Yes we are asking public service workers to contribute more, yes we are asking them to work longer along with the rest of society . . . a sustainable deal that will endure for at least 25-years, an affordable deal that ensures that taxpayers are being asked to make a sensible contribution but keeps costs sustainable and under proper control.’
A meeting of the TUC’s Public Services Liaison Group (PSLG) at Congress House in London revealed that Alexander and Maude ‘indicated a long-term commitment to any agreed reforms not being reopened within the next 25 years.’
It concluded: ‘All the unions have indicated throughout this process their determination to reach a negotiated settlement on all these issues.
‘That remains the position and unions will engage intensively in the coming weeks.
‘But unless and until further real progress is made and acceptable offers are made within those negotiations, unions remain firmly committed to continuing their preparations for the planned day of action on November 30.’
TUC general secretary Barber told reporters ‘We are a long way from a position where we have offers on the table which might prove acceptable.
‘As things stand, the plans for 30 November remain unchanged.’