THE Unite and Unison trade unions have joined with the GMB in suspending the Heads of Agreement with the Coalition government on destroying public sector pensions.
Previously they had said that everything that was possible to achieve had been achieved.
But following what the GMB described as a ‘dealbreaker’ intervention by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Pickles on the proposed changes to the Local Government Pensions Scheme (LGPS), the three unions issued a joint statement on Tuesday evening.
‘The Local Government Trade Unions have been surprised by the response from Eric Pickles today to the joint proposal from the unions and Local Government Association for reform of the LGPS.
‘We understand the Secretary of State’s response has subsequently been withdrawn.
‘In light of this confusion we therefore suspend our agreement and now seek an urgent meeting with government to establish an agreed way forward.’
Brian Strutton, GMB National Secretary for Public Services said: ‘The proposed way forward for the LGPS, worked out by unions and council leaders, had been shared in advance with government and no problems had been raised.
‘It is therefore all the more surprising that as Danny Alexander was announcing our agreement to the House of Commons, his Cabinet colleague Eric Pickles was completely undermining it.
‘I think we need to restore trust and confidence urgently.’
The BMA also stressed that no deal has been reached.
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.
‘Along with the other health unions, we agreed that this was the best that could be achieved by negotiation at this stage.
‘We told the government that we will consult our members on the offer.
‘Doctors and medical students are still being asked to pay hundreds of thousands of pounds more for their pensions, and to work for longer. This is despite the fact that their pensions were overhauled only three years ago.
‘We will be consulting our members early in the New Year to help determine our next steps.’
Public and Commercial Services union general secretary Mark Serwotka said the government’s ‘unacceptable bullying’ will not deter the union’s members from standing up for what is right.
In singling out the union for criticism the chief secretary to the Treasury mislead MPs by saying PCS had ‘walked away from talks’.
Serwotka 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.’