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Strikes threatened as public sector pension talks conclude

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by Jan Harris
Strikes threatened as public sector pension talks conclude

Talks over public sector pensions have now ended with the government producing a final set of proposals.

While the Treasury said the talks were constructive, unions claim that ‘serious matters’ have been left unresolved, leading to the threat of further industrial action.

The proposed changes to health, education and civil service pensions are designed to save the government billions of pounds.

They include increases to employee contributions, the introduction of career average pension schemes instead of more expensive final salary schemes, and an increase in pension age to 68.

Following a nationwide strike of 1.5 million public sector workers at the end of November, unions agreed to re-enter talks over a number of points.

The proposed final agreement, which has now been published, represents ‘a fair deal for public service workers and an affordable deal for the taxpayer,’ according to Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander.

The GMB union will present the proposals to its NHS and civil service members for their views, although it is concerned that issues over future contributions and cost management have not been fully addressed.

Teaching union the NUT has turned down the plans and could take strike action by the end of March.

The PCS union which represents civil servants has also threatened more strike action while Unison is to ballot its NHS members over the plans.

The government hopes to bring in primary legislation as soon as possible to ensure the new deal is in place by 2015.

Judges are fighting proposals that would make them pay towards their pensions for the first time.

They have formed a Judicial Pensions Committee to fight the government’s demand for contributions.

They argue that the constitution demands that the pay of judges should never be cut in order to ensure that they cannot be tempted by bribery, and they claim that pensions form part of their pay.

The government would save £7m a year if judges contributed 1.28 per cent of their salary towards their pensions.

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News posted: March 9, 2012

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