Ministers and unions to kiss and make up next week

Both sides said to be privately optimistic of a broad deal on pensions before end of the year

Ministers and union leaders will embark on two weeks of "intensive negotiations" in the wake of Wednesday's mass public sector strikes in an attempt to strike a broad deal on pension reform by Christmas.

Senior sources on both sides of the dispute say that, despite the increased public rhetoric surrounding the strike, a deal to head off future industrial action is "entirely achievable".

A meeting between Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office Minister, and Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, alongside other union leaders, could be scheduled for next week. At the same time discussions between unions involved in individual pension schemes and employers will pick up pace in the hope of producing a broad deal by the Government's end-of-year deadline.

Both sides expressed private optimism but warned that sticking points around pension contributions and the specific make-up of individual pension schemes remained. "There will be a genuine attempt by both sides after the strike to resume negotiations to see if we can find a way through together," said one source close to the talks. "There will be quite intensive negotiations ahead – but I detect a willingness on both parties to do a deal."

The private comments were at odds with the public statements of union leaders. Dave Prentis, the head of Unison, warned of further industrial action in the new year. "It could involve rolling programmes, region by region, service by service, workers within particular services – nothing is ruled out at this stage," he said. Mr Barber said he believed the mass walk-out would strengthen the unions' hand. "I am genuinely very confident that the strikes will show not only the strength of feeling among ordinary public sector workers but also that it will do a lot to dispel the Government's myth of 'cosseted public sector workers' and 'gold plated pensions'," he said. A ComRes poll for ITV News at Ten, found that four in ten public sector workers agreed that the strikes are unlikely to succeed, while 47 per cent of the public, do not believe that public sector workers are right to strike.

The Labour leader Ed Miliband appeared to harden his position, saying he did not support strikes because they were "always a sign of failure". But he insisted he would not "demonise" those taking action, and said the Government should be negotiating, not "ramping up the rhetoric".

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'