Magazine article Public Finance

Unions Unite to Strike over Pension Changes

Magazine article Public Finance

Unions Unite to Strike over Pension Changes

Article excerpt

Millions of public service workers look certain to take part in the sectors largest strike for decades next week as the government comes under fire for its 'politically inept' handling of pension reforms.

Seven unions will take the unprecedented step of uniting on March 23, just weeks before an expected general election, for a nationwide day of action against government plans to raise the age of retirement and reform pension structures.

Five local authority unions representing 1.4 million workers - Unison, the T&G, GMB, Amicus and the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians - have been holding talks with Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in efforts to avert the action.

New pension regulations, which raise the retirement age from 60 to 65 and withdraw the 85-year rule that allows workers to access pensions early, will come into force next month, a year earlier than reforms for other workers.

The unions have been pressing Prescott to annul the regulations and allow unions to negotiate on all changes to the Local Government Pension Scheme, with a second phase expected in 2008. 'Our members are not prepared to accept changes by diktat,' said Unison general secretary Dave Prentis.

Jack Dromey, deputy general secretary of the T&G, said: 'The government should now sit down with the trade unions to negotiate a sensible solution which ensures the long-term viability of good pension schemes. …

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