Pension strike looms as union votes

Unison protestorsThe prospect of a strike by millions of public sector workers over pensions looks set to come a step nearer when the result of a ballot by the biggest union involved in the dispute is announced.

Unison, which represents staff ranging from refuse collectors and school dinner ladies to social workers, will reveal the outcome of voting by its members, who were urged to back a 24-hour walkout on November 30.
The union mounted a big campaign to persuade its members to vote yes, and officials said when the ballot was launched last month that they expected support for a stoppage.

The Government will study details of how many workers took part in the ballot as well as any majority in favour of action.

Members of the NASUWT teachers' union start voting on industrial action from Friday and other unions will announce the result of their ballots in the coming weeks, raising the threat of the biggest strike in a generation on November 30.

Unions are pressing ahead with plans for the strike despite a new Government offer on public sector pensions described as the "chance of a lifetime".

Hours after receiving details of the new offer from Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander and Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude on Wednesday, union leaders said they welcomed the proposed changes, but they were not enough to call off the planned industrial action.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said there were still "major areas of concern" over the Government's proposals, which will lead to increased pension contributions and later retirement.

Ministers warned that the offer could be withdrawn if there was no agreement reached by the end of the year and replaced with less generous arrangements.

Mr Alexander said: "I reserve the right to reconsider whether these enhancements are appropriate under circumstances where agreement is not reached."

© 2011 Press Association
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