Council workers vote to strike over removal of ‘rule of 85’ retirement benefit

Council workers have voted for what could be the UK’s biggest walkout since the general strike of 1926, in protest at pension changes.

Up to 1.5 million staff will walk out on 28 March following a ballot of unions representing cooks, refuse collectors, home helps and others.

The unions are angry at government plans to scrap the ‘rule of 85’ that allows some workers to retire on a full pension at 60.

Councils say the rising cost of pensions means this must rise to 65 for all employees.

About four-fifths of the participating members of the trade unions – including Unison, the Transport and General Workers Union and the GMB – voted for strike action. The ballot turnout was 28%.

Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “Union leaders should think long and hard about strike action. Any stoppages would affect some of the most vulnerable in our society.”

Ministers said the rule would become illegal under new regulations aimed at outlawing age discrimination. The rule as it stands means that any worker whose service and age add up to 85 is able to claim their pension.

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