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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 December, 2004, 09:17 GMT
Strike move in public pension row
Civil servant protest
Unions will meet on Monday
Unions are considering strike calls over government plans to increase the pension age of public sector workers from 60 to 65.

More than a dozen unions representing health workers, civil servants, firefighters and teachers are expected to be at a meeting on Monday.

Mark Serwotka, of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, said strike action would be a "last resort".

The government also wants to change the way in which pensions are calculated.

It wants to base pensions on an employee's average salary throughout their service.

At present, pensions are calculated according to final salary levels.

Industrial action could be something that happens - but as a last resort
Mark Serwotka

The government has said the changes are about making the pensions system fairer, particularly for the lower paid, and not a cash-saving measure.

But the unions argue some people could see their pensions halved.

Mr Serwotka, PCS general secretary, explained the reasons behind the possible strike action.

He told BBC News: "Many of our workers are lowly paid but, at the moment, they can have a good pension. But that is under threat.

"Forcing people to work an extra five years under the threat of a reduced pension is not acceptable."

Demonstration

The union leader said the meeting on Monday will give unions an opportunity to discuss a "common negotiation position with the government."

Mr Serwotka added: "Ultimately, if we are having a dialogue with people who are not prepared to take on board concerns, and show a willingness to change their minds, industrial action could be something that happens - but as a last resort."

If implemented, the proposed changes would apply to new civil servants joining from 6 April 2006 and to current employees from 1 April 2013 - they will not lose pension rights earned prior to that date.

Union bosses have said the proposals have "significant implications" for the whole of the public sector which employs more than five million workers.

On Saturday civil servants demonstrated in Chancellor Gordon Brown's Fife constituency against proposals to axe around 10,000 public sector jobs in Scotland.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
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SEE ALSO:
Whitehall pension change outlined
09 Dec 04 |  Politics
Q&A: Civil service pension changes
09 Dec 04 |  Business
Strike threat over pension plans
06 Dec 04 |  Politics
First civil service cuts unveiled
16 Sep 04 |  Politics


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