Talks in public sector pension row

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The Independent Online

Fresh talks aimed at averting a wave of strikes by public sector workers in a bitter row over pensions will be held tomorrow.

Union leaders representing local government employees will meet council officials for the first time since the TUC announced a day of action on November 30 in protest at planned increases in the pension contributions of millions of workers.



Several unions are now preparing to hold ballots for strikes, with the aim of co-ordinating industrial action.



Another meeting will be held on Thursday between Government ministers and unions representing public sector staff.



Brian Strutton, national officer of the GMB, said: "These are the first talks with the local government employers since GMB announced a ballot process that signals the start of a long, hard and dirty dispute brought about by government's intransigent approach to negotiations.



"The ballot for industrial action will include care workers, social workers, hospital porters, refuse workers, healthcare assistants, teaching assistants, paramedics, 999 control room staff, gravediggers and thousands of other frontline public sector workers.



"These are not workers who want to strike but they are angry and frustrated by the continued vilification of their jobs and the contempt shown by ministers for their commitment and their futures."



Mr Strutton said more than one in four local government workers were priced out of their pension scheme, adding: "There is still time for a negotiated solution but we cannot delay the ballot process any longer."



The GMB said the local government and NHS pension schemes already take in £6 billion a year more from contributions and investment income than is paid out in pensions.

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