Today we could see the biggest strike by public sector workers in 100 years.
Trade union leaders failed to strike a deal with the Government over public sector pensions. The disruption will lead to an estimated 750,000 public sector workers striking with thousands of schools, government departments and courts closing.
While it appears that trade union leaders may have conceded that members will have to lose their final salary pensions schemes in a move to a scheme linked to their average salary during their career, the key sticking points are the Government’s decision to impose a 3 per cent increase in pension contributions and from next year to force staff to postpone retirement until 66.
In an opinion piece in The Times yesterday columnist Daniel Finklestein believes there is a broad assumption that the unions are on a hiding to nothing because they are in decline. In a collision with the Conservative Government in the 1980’s the unions were defeated and, probably most importantly, the Government has little choice but to resist them. However, he warns that public opinion can sway in questioning why the Government cannot stop them and how we got here in the first place.
Whilst almost everyone outside the public sector (and some within) believe that public sector pensions are unaffordable, some considering them to be wrong, the unions have a lot to prove right now, particularly as some are suffering losses in their membership. If talks fail next month, public sector workers could be striking again in September.
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