Strike success boosts campaign for fair deal

Strike success boosts campaign for fair public sector pension deal

Intensive talks are being held between civil service unions and the Cabinet Office in an attempt to break the logjam over public service pensions.

Prospect negotiators are meeting officials twice a week despite the continued unhelpful comments by ministers in the wake of the success of the day of action and latterly, Lord Hutton.

Dai Hudd, deputy general secretary, said: "Progress on key issues has been slow and on some issues non-existent. There remain severe obstacles to coming to an agreement but we understand the main features of a scheme that will be required to secure the support of members and we will continue to push for an outcome that is fair and meets that objective."

He warned that the chancellor's further two-year pay freeze would make it more difficult to achieve a settlement in the pensions dispute.

"It will add hugely to the hardship of members at the very time they are threatened with an increase in pension contributions. Many members I spoke to on the picket line were outraged at the decision, which bears all the hallmark of a vendetta against public servants rather than a reasoned response to economic pressures."

Prospect and almost all the 20 unions campaigning for a fair deal have been buoyed by the success of the pensions day of action, which has added to the pressure on government to make further concessions.

An estimated two million workers defied pleas from ministers and front-page headlines in the press to go on strike on November 30, including 26,000 Prospect members in the civil service sector.

Faced by disruption to schools, hospitals, council and government services, the reaction of the public was the opposite to that predicted by ministers.
Despite only 20 per cent of the working population being in the public sector, support for the strike action ranged from 39 per cent (recorded by the Sunday Times) to 61 per cent (BBC poll).