Public and Commercial Services Union
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'Maximum unity' needed after ministers refuse to move on pensions

Public sector unions need to show "maximum unity in the face of a government that has lost the nation's trust" as ministers confirm they are to press on with unfair and unnecessary cuts to pensions.

Treasury minister Danny Alexander claims that the negotiations have made "progress" and says talks will now proceed on a scheme by scheme basis designed to implement increases in employee contributions and the pension age, and the devaluing of pensions through changing inflation indexation.

But the union has reaffirmed its opposition to these issues that the government continues to refuse to compromise on as it seeks to raise £2.8 billion from the pay-as-you-go public sector schemes - this money will go straight into Treasury coffers to help pay off the budget deficit. The union says it will use every opportunity in talks to make its opposition clear.

In the run-up to the strike on 30 June by civil servants, teachers and lecturers, government statements about the affordability of public sector pensions - including prime minister David Cameron's claim that the system was "in danger of going broke" - were exposed as deliberately misleading and ministers have been forced to backtrack.

PCS is now considering further industrial action in the autumn aimed at putting pressure on the government to agree to full and meaningful negotiations on all the main issues, and there are already indications there will be more unions on board.

There is an alternative to cutting the deficit that would prevent the need for the government to impose what is effectively an extra tax on working in the public sector, the union says.

Instead of targeting public servants, pensioners, students, disabled people and those entitled to welfare payments, the government should invest in jobs and public services to help our economy to grow and tackle seriously the £120 billion in taxes lost each year through tax evasion, avoidance and a lack of resources in HM Revenue and Customs.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "From the outset the government has stubbornly refused to compromise on any of the key issues facing public servants, meaning we have been talking but not able to negotiate.

"This is clearly totally unacceptable but it is symptomatic of the high-handed approach ministers have taken in general that has contributed to the government being already deeply unpopular little more than a year after the general election.

"We will not stand back and watch while everything that public servants have ever worked for is taken away from them, and we will continue to build wider support for maximum unity in the face of a government that has lost the nation's trust."

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