Bloomberg News

U.K. Treasury Minister Attacks Public-Sector Strike Threats

June 17, 2011

June 17 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. Treasury Minister Danny Alexander will today attack strike plans by unions representing public-sector employees, saying they’re premature and not in the interests of workers.

Alexander will tell an audience in London that the strikes protesting pension curbs for state workers are “unjustifiable” because they ask taxpayers to work longer so that union members can retire sooner and on more generous pensions.

“It is disappointing that there are a minority of unions who seem hell-bent on premature strike action before discussions are even complete” on pension changes, Alexander will say, according to prepared remarks released by his office. “This government will reform public-service pensions, and this is the time to shape that change, not try to block it.”

The Conservative-led coalition, which is seeking to eliminate the biggest budget deficit since World War II, has said government workers will have to retire later, pay more into pension funds and expect lower payouts to trim costs. More than 750,000 public-sector staff are set to join the strike to protest the changes on June 30.

Alexander, a member of the Liberal Democrats, the junior coalition party, said the plans will protect the poorest workers from increased payments. The government plans to save 2.8 billion pounds ($4.5 billion) a year from the changes.

The strikes are being coordinated by the Public and Commercial Services Union, the National Union of Teachers, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the University and College Union.

Business Secretary Vince Cable is among ministers who’ve told unions this month that a wave of strike action would increase pressure to tighten industrial-relations laws.

--Editors: Eddie Buckle, Fergal O’Brien

To contact the reporter on this story: Gonzalo Vina in London at gvina@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net


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