The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), which was part of the coalition of unions that staged the walkout in June, is at the forefront of the new mass industrial action scheduled to take place unless the government concedes to compromise over pension reforms.
The new reforms will necessitate increased contributions to the scheme with smaller income, along with increasing the age of retirement for public sector workers.
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Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the union PCS, calls the impending strikes “significantly bigger” than the June walkouts, as more than 10 unions could potentially become involved from November and continuing into 2012.
Serwotka also talked of plans to target specific services in the industrial action, warning of the impact on society should public sector workers such as those in charge of passports and drivers licenses were to strike.
However, that does not mean that the strike will be on a small scale, as Serwotka also points out, “We are moving towards a strike potentially involving millions.” Among these millions are included teachers, firefighters, and other respected civil servants who are outraged about the changes to their pension schemes.
If your pension is in danger of succumbing to reforms, use our pension enquiry form to speak with a professional about what your options are for a supplementary pension plan.
Talks with the government
Serwotka described the negotiations that have occurred thus far as “a farce with bells on,” saying that the government “should be prepared to compromise” in a negotiation, but are not.
“On plans to make people work longer, pay more and receive less they have not moved one jot,” Serwotka said of the talks. Union leaders maintain that they are prepared to compromise if they are shown compromise in return, but are now mobilizing in the face of what many are calling failed attempts at negotiation.
Plans are for the unions to gather under the slogan “fair pensions for all,” as many see the government trying to divide private and public sector workers through pensions. The government side of the talks center on the idea that public pensions are too generous, but the union opinion is that this is indicative of the “appalling level” of pension provision in the private sector.
If you are concerned about the reforms negatively affecting your pension income, consider a stakeholder pension for a private supplement to your state pension.
“The idea that in anyway the way forward is to put everybody at a lower level is completely wrong,” said Mark Serwotka on this issue. “And therefore the petition we are working on with the unions is very clear: it’s about fair pensions for all, public and private.”
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