Ed Balls warns unions over pension strike ‘trap’
Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has urged the unions not to fall into the trap of striking over the planned public sector pension reform. He further stated that Chancellor George Osborne was trying to provoke industrial action so he could blame them for the weak economic recovery. Mr Balls said ministers were wrong to announce changes before talks with unions ended.
Meanwhile, Business Secretary Vince Cable has said there will be negotiation. Since 1926, the unions are threatening a big wave of strikes after the government proposed public sector employees to work longer and pay more for less generous entitlements in retirement.
Mr Balls writes: “From David Cameron down, ministers are saying to the trade unions: ‘Bring it on.’ As in the 1980s, they seem to be spoiling for a fight, goading the unions and trying to provoke strikes.” BBC
He said everyone agrees that with people living longer, the pension system needs to be restructured. But he hadded that the government should be talking with the unions before making announcements. The Labour leadership had until now refused to be drawn on whether the unions were adopting appropriate tactics in their fight with the government. Already, public workers have a pay freeze and job cuts.
The government proposal bars members of the armed forces, police and fire service who receive their occupational pension at the same time as the state pension in future. By law now, many can receive a full pension at 60 but the state pension age is due to rise to 66 for both men and women by April 2020. The Ministers would also like to move the public sector scheme from a final salary system to benefits based on career-average earnings. But there’s one problem with this proposal, lower paid workers would not have their pension contributions increased.
Yet Dr Mary Boustad, who is the general secretary of the teacher’s union, (ATL), wants the negotiations to start over. And by June 30, there’s a strike scheduled by teachers in England and Wales. The plan is for them to walk out on the same day as PCS union members, who are mainly from the civil service and government agencies. Now the unions represent approximately 1.3 million people, who work for local lauthorities, the NHS, colleges and the police, has not yet balloted its members on industrial action. But the unions are prepared for the oncoming strike.