Offer fails to avert strikes

City A.M. Reporter
THE TREASURY laid out an improved deal on public sector pension reform yesterday, but unions said it was not enough to avert a national strike planned for 30 November.

Unions representing more than 2m workers have been locked in a dispute with the coalition over its plans to raise pension contributions as part of deficit-cutting measures.

Treasury minister Danny Alexander met union leaders before announcing an offer to let workers build up their pensions eight per cent more quickly, while workers within 10 years of retirement would see no change to their pension.

The government’s offer included a pledge not to revisit any agreed reforms within the next 25 years.

Mark Serwotka, leader of the PCS union, gave the offer a cautious welcome. “After six months of there not being a single move on anything, it is of course welcome that they’ve modified their proposals slightly,” he told BBC Radio. “But ... if someone robbed you of £10 and then decided it was very harsh and only robbed you of £9 you are still being robbed.”

Brendan Barber, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said the unions were “firmly committed” to preparing for a day of strikes at the end of the month.