Bloomberg News

Unions Risk Losing Pension Offer If Strike Proceeds, Maude Says

November 20, 2011

Nov. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Widespread strike action planned for Nov. 30 could damage the British economy and result in a government offer to be withdrawn, U.K. Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said.

Maude, currently in negotiations with unions representing government employees over how to reduce their pension rights, said he disagreed with their decision to strike while talks were ongoing and urged members to take minimal action.

“The offer we’ve put on the table is conditional on the unions agreeing overall the outcome of the new scheme,” Maude told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. “We have the power to withdraw it and impose something.”

Fourteen unions representing teachers, health workers and civil servants are planning strikes to protest plans to make government employees retire later and contribute more to their pensions. Ministers say the move -- part of Prime Minister David Cameron’s 80 billion-pound ($128 billion) program of spending cuts -- is fair as the more than five million workers who contribute to public-sector pensions get benefits no longer available in the private sector.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers, said her members had no alternative to strike action.

“At the 11th hour the government’s put on the table some amendments to their proposals, which were welcome, but actually they need to be examined very carefully,” she told the Marr program. “At the moment, we’re involved in frantic activity to try to see what those proposals will actually mean.”

--Editor: Mike Harrison

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net

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


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