In yet more aggressive rhetoric by the unions, there has been a further call to stage a day of strikes on 30 November 2011 with trade unions warning the government that the UK faces the “biggest mobilisation in a generation” unless ministers rethink “hugely damaging” changes to public sector pension schemes. The GMB has gone as far as warning that the the action could spread into next summer, hitting the London Olympics and the Queen’s jubilee.
The issue is, as before, over pension contribution payments. Millions of workers including nurses, teachers and firefighters are set to take part in a national day of action on November 30.
TUC delegates have unanimously voted for ‘co-ordinated industrial action’. TUC boss Brendan Barber urged ministers to “engage in a genuine spirit of seeking agreement” to end the deadlock. Unison boss Dave Prentis said his members were gearing up for “the fight of our lives”.
Unions have been in talks with ministers over the Government’s pension proposals for some time – see our blog entry for 30 June 2011 here. Under the proposals public sector workers would have to work longer and pay more into their retirement pots. However, the Government say the measure is essential to ensure that public sector pensions are affordable.
Cabinet Officer Minister Francis Maude is roused by the talks, saying “The Union’s own members want to be going to work. They don’t want to give up a day’s pay at a time when we are all of us working under constraints”. Even Ed Milliband told TUC delegates last week that strike action on public sector pensions was “a mistake”.
With no support from politicians or the public, watch this space to see if strikes can be averted.