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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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PCS union to push for 2nd national pension strike in April


Thought public sector pension strikes had all blown over? Not a chance.

The Public and Commercial Services Union may have confirmed that it will not join with members of the University and Colleges Union and the National Union of Teachers in a one-day stoppage and demonstration in London next Wednesday (28 March).
But it has just announced it will "work with other unions to build for further co-ordinated national industrial action aimed to take place before the end of April".
It also intends to write to the coalition government rejecting its latest ‘final’ offer and seeking urgent negotiations. The PCS, which is the largest civil service union, likewise plans to organise targeted protests at cabinet ministers’ constituencies during the Easter parliamentary break along with other unions – and get involved in a wider lobbying of MPs.
Following a consultation ballot with its members, it came to light that 90.5% voted to reject the coalition government’s offer, while 72.1% voted to support a programme of further action with other unions – the highest support for action the PCS has ever gained.
The union claims to have been consistent in its line that, because the cuts are being applied across the public sector, co-ordinated national action has been necessary to win concessions "and will be necessary in future by as many unions as possible".
An appetite for action
Its general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "While we remain committed to negotiating with ministers, they have so far refused to move from their plans to force civil and public servants to work longer and pay more for less in retirement. We will be working with other unions to build for co-ordinated national action to successfully fight these cuts to pensions, as well as those to pay and jobs that this brutal government is inflicting on the public sector."
Research released last week revealed that there was still an appetite for strike action among public sector workers, with two out of five prepared to walk out over the government’s proposed pension changes.
This is despite the fact that the government attests it has now formally ended talks with representatives in the health, education and civil service sectors, although discussions are still ongoing with local authorities.
To make matters worse for the unions, however, they also lost their Court of Appeal battle today against a government decision to change the way that pension increases are calculated.
Three Appeal Court judges unanimously refused to overturn last December’s majority ruling by the High Court in favour of the government’s decision to use the consumer price index rather than the faster-rising retail price index to decide on pension upgrades.
The unions claim the move will result in the value of pensions being cut by 20% over the period of an average worker’s retirement.
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Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Cath Everett

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