Nurses delay strike ballot plans until new year

Nurses' leaders yesterday put off plans to ballot staff on industrial action over the Government's planned pension reforms in the first sign that the coalition of unions prepared to strike could be fracturing.

After nearly two days of talks, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Council decided to put off a decision on a strike ballot until the new year.

While the union made it clear it was still prepared to consider striking for the first time in its history, its decision not to proceed to ballot immediately will be welcomed by the Government. It will dismay other public-sector unions who are planning a national day of strike action at the end of the month to put pressure on ministers to make further concessions.

Last week, the Government outlined a series of changes to its original pension proposals designed to encourage more moderate unions to reconsider industrial action. These included increasing the amount of government contributions to the schemes as well as insulating those closest to retirement from the effect of the changes.

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