UNISON ballots local government workforce on pension strike
(18/02/05) All 800,000 of UNISON’s local government membership will receive strike ballot papers in the next few days after talks were adjourned without agreement late on Thursday (17 February).
Members in England, Wales and Scotland are being asked if they are prepared to take industrial action, with the first strike planned for 23 March if they say Yes. The ballot will close on 9 March.
UNISON has been involved in a series of talks aimed at resolving the issue with Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and, in the latter stages, the Local Government Association.
Meetings are set to resume next week.
UNISON and other unions – including the T&G, amicus, GMB and UCATT – are calling on the government to withdraw regulations scheduled to take effect from 1 April which, without consultation, raised the retirement age of all public sector workers to 65.
The employers wanted to set preconditions guaranteeing the "savings" they expect from the changes.
The other unions are also balloting their members. The PCS civil service union has already staged a strike over the changes, which will severely impact working lives and final pension packages in the public services.
UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis saying that it would be a “sad day” for local government if strike action goes ahead.
The union is open to meaningful discussion about the future shape of the local government pension but members are angrily rejecting drastic changes forced on them “by diktat,” he added.
“Our members pay into the scheme week in week out their working lives and they deserve the right to be involved in any decisions about its future.”
The news comes as thousands of UNISON members working in the NHS, local government, education, the police service and other vital parts of the public sector are joining the TUC’s national day of action today highlighting the pension crisis.
Rallies are being held across the country, with MPs also being asked at their weekly surgeries not to support the proposed increase in the pension age.
More on the pensions campaign, as well as background material on the issues and arguments