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Page last updated at 08:13 GMT, Thursday, 30 June 2011 09:13 UK

Serwotka and Maude clash over strikes


Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude and the general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) union Mark Serwotka have clashed over strikes taking place across the country.

Speaking to Evan Davis, Mr Serwotka said that the strikes were taking place because the government were not prepared to move "a jot" on four critical negotiating points over pension reform - working longer, paying 3% more, reducing the pension and changing the inflation measure from CPI to RPI.

"While we're talking, we're not negotiating," he said. "It's time for them to engage properly."

But Mr Maude said the government was taking part in the talks in "good faith" and they were "making progress".

"There is a huge amount to talk about," he said when pressed by Evan over whether there was space for movement on the four critical issues.

The Hutton report made it clear that the current public sector pension system was no longer "tenable" and the PCS union had "jumped the gun" and taken "premature action" he said.

But Mr Serwotka said the minister had "clearly been rumbled" on the issue of pension affordability.

Under sustained questioning on the issue, Mr Maude said that the pension system "will be unaffordable" if changes were not made.

"At the end of this, we want to protect the lower paid people... we want there still to be at the end of this, pensions available to public sector workers which are at least as good as they are today for most of them.

"But we do want them to pay some more, so that there is a better balance between what they pay and what other taxpayers pay."

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