New strike threat over pensions

 

The biggest civil service union today threatened another strike in protest at the Government's controversial pension reforms amid claims that the coalition "unleashed hell" against workers and communities through its spending cuts.

The Public and Commercial Services union agreed to build towards fresh walkouts at the end of next month with as many unions as possible unless talks over the pension changes are reopened.

Delegates at the PCS's annual conference in Brighton also vowed to campaign against legislation which will enable the pension reforms to take place.

General secretary Mark Serwotka said workers faced "unprecedented" challenges, adding: "What the Government is doing is unleashing hell on members, their communities and vulnerable families.

"This is a Government of millionaires, of incompetence, which is ruling on behalf of a tiny elite, without a mandate."

Mr Serwotka said unions were now the real opposition to the Government, attacking Labour for going along with many of the coalition's cuts.

Some delegates argued that the PCS should go it alone with further walkouts if other unions decided against taking further action.

But Mr Serwotka said PCS members had voted to take industrial action alongside other unions, so some would feel demoralised if that did not happen.

"Let us hope we have a massive strike in June, but it needs to be with other unions."

The union has already taken part in three days of national strikes over pensions and is planning further action in some Government departments, including transport.

Mr Serwotka told the 1,000 delegates that Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude was refusing to reopen talks, describing him as the "Minister for Chaos" following the row over petrol supplies when tanker drivers threatened to strike.

Thousands of PCS members in the Department for Transport are set to take industrial action soon in a row over job cuts and privatisation, hitting driving tests and issuing of licences.

The union is also balloting its members in HM Revenue and Customs for strikes over similar issues.

Mr Serwotka said it was clear from today's conference discussion that PCS members wanted to continue fighting the Government's pension changes, which would still mean that public servants would work longer, pay more into their pensions and receive less in retirement.

"There was complete unity that we are right to fight on, and the stakes are massive."

He said he will now contact the unions which took part in the strike on May 10 to discuss the prospect of another walkout in June.

Teaching unions will not join any action next month, but Mr Serwotka said the campaign will continue into the autumn, echoing warnings from Unite leader Len McCluskey that strikes could be held into next year.

"Action will ebb and flow, but the common link is opposition to the effects of the austerity cuts, and the potential for other unions to rejoin the fight.

"There were representatives from a number of Government departments here and no-one wants to give up, which I think is significant.

"We have not had any move from the Government on the three questions of retiring later, increased pension contributions and receiving less, and the worry is that things will get worse."

Mr Maude said: "Once again I am disappointed that the PCS insists on pushing for futile strike action which benefits no-one, and I would urge them to reconsider their position.

"As we have said time and again, pension talks will not be reopened and nothing further will be achieved through strike action.

"In March we set out our final proposed agreements on pension reform following more than a year of intensive discussions with trades unions.

"Our reforms ensure that public sector pensions will remain among the very best available and that they can be sustained for the future.

"Public sector workers are being asked to work a bit longer and pay a bit more, but they will continue to get a guaranteed pension which is index-linked and inflation-proofed.

"Most staff on low and middle incomes will receive a pension at retirement as good as what they expect today, and for many it will be even better."

PA

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas