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Page last updated at 07:42 GMT, Wednesday, 15 June 2011 08:42 UK

Public pension talks 'a farce'


Civil service union the PCS seems likely to vote to strike, joining two teaching unions in promising to walk out in protest against reforms to public sector pensions.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union, told James Naughtie that he expected his members to vote for strike action, because they are "so angry and worried about the future".

The proposed pension changes are "daylight robbery" he said, and there was "no indication whatsoever that the government are having second thoughts" about the reforms.

"In reality the talks are a farce," he said.

Faced by the "same attacks", he said it made sense to find common cause with council workers, health workers and teachers in co-ordinated industrial action.

But Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude denied that the talks were a farce, and said that most trade unions were continuing to take part in the talks - which are "serious" and "undertaken in good faith".

"Let us be clear about this. Public sector pensions are very good," he said.

"We want, at the end of this, public sector pensions to continue to be among the best available."

He argued that the strike ballots had a low turn-out, and that he could not rule out changing the law, but that "the strike laws work pretty well at the moment".

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