Government reopens talks on public sector pensions

Union leaders have welcomed the government’s move to reopen talks with trade unions over controversial changes to public sector pensions.

After three weeks of intensive negotiations, deputy prime minister John Prescott has agreed to revoke the April 2005 changes to the Local Government Pension Scheme and to introduce a new negotiating body to deal with the long-term future of the scheme.

Alan Johnson, work and pensions minister said on Friday: “I think we need to take the time to get this right. The Prime Minister agrees and has tasked me with making a fresh start on discussions with the trade unions. I am very clear that in those talks, all aspects of the government’s proposals will be open to discussion and negotiation.”

Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary said: “We welcome this move in finding a way forward through joint discussions.  The commitment comes from the top level of government  and shows social partnership at its best. 

“Our objectives over the past three weeks have been to get negotiations going on pensions – something we have never had before – and to get the 2004 order lifted.  We have achieved both those objectives.  And now we look forward to entering into real negotiations about the future of the pension schemes.

Jack Dromey, T&G deputy general secretary said: “One million workers need no longer fear poorer pensions from 1 April. Now we can negotiate with government, central and local, a sensible long-term solution, ensuring security and dignity for the nation’s public servants.”

Alan Ritchie, UCATT general secretary said: “The deputy prime minister has addressed our immediate concerns and we now look forward to meaningful negotiations to deliver a pension scheme that brings dignity in retirement to council building workers.”

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