Thousands of public sector workers held a day of action last Friday to protest against what they warn is a burgeoning pensions crisis.
Changes to pension schemes proposed by the government, including raising the retirement age to 65, could leave public sector employees facing a similar plight to employees in the private sector, claims the TUC.
Teachers, nurses, firefighters, prison officers, local government workers and civil servants converged on central Newcastle for an hour-long rally.
They were joined by Prudence the Pensions pig -a giant inflatable piggybank mascot floating several feet above the ground.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Pay is often lower in the public sector than in comparable private jobs, and stress levels higher. A reasonable pension has always helped make up for this. Cutting back provision will hit morale and staff retention.”
Business groups have warned that the government should not buckle under union demands.
Bill Midgley, president of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “It is time the TUC joined the rest of us in the real world. The cost of public sector pensions currently stands around 600bn. This is a massive weight on the shoulders of existing and future taxpayers.
“The government is absolutely right to raise the public sector retirement age to 65. Without such a move, pension costs would grow even larger, placing yet more pressure on the private sector that has to fund this bill. It will also bring public sector workers into line with their private sector counterparts,” he added.