Trade unions have no appetite for strikes over cuts, says Francis Maude

 

Most union leaders do not have "the appetite" for sustained strike action which will damage members' livelihoods, the Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said last night.

At The Independent's fringe meeting, Mr Maude, who is leading government negotiations with unions over pension reform, suggested that a deal to avert strike action remained possible. Plans for a one-day walkout on 30 November have been announced by 14 public-sector unions.

"There is an urgent need for a proper settlement on public-sector pensions for a generation," he said. "We need to get this right and there is a big prize for the unions to do this deal.

"There is a range among the unions. One or two are politically motivated. The PCS – the biggest civil service – has a leadership which is very, very hard left. I would not hold out much hope that union is going to agree to anything. It hasn't so far."

But he claimed the unions were divided. "I think most union leaders and members do not have an appetite for sustained industrial action which would damage their members' livelihood and for which there will be very little public sympathy."

In a discussion with the Independent columnist Steve Richards, Mr Maude admitted that the Government sometimes struggled to get its message across to the public. "We tend to think about the communication afterwards rather than before. I know I do that. You are eager to get on with things and it's difficult driving through reform and you think about the communication afterwards."

He said this was particularly true of NHS reform: "Maybe we underestimated the sensitivity to any idea of reorganisation of the health service."

Mr Maude said the Government was building on the work of the Blair government – and incorporating the ideas of the "Orange book Liberal Democrats" – in breaking up monolithic state institutions.

Earlier Mr Maude called the number of taxpayer-paid union officials in the civil service "way out of control". He said union officials cost £30m in the Civil Service and that consultations would be held with the unions with a view to reducing that number.

"I think people will be surprised to learn that there are 150 civil servants who are on the public payroll, paid for by the taxpayer, but who are actually full-time trade union officials."

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?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Recruitment Genius: Magento Front End Web Developer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Front End Web Developer is re...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore