Unison has vowed to escalate strike action after the government refused to back down on plans to abolish a rule that allows local government staff to retire at 60 if they have 25 years service.
The government reiterated yesterday that the so-called Rule of 85 would breach forthcoming age discrimination legislation but unions claim it is breaking promises made to workers, many of whom are low paid women.
Employers say failure to scrap the rule would add millions every year to council tax bills.
However, Unison reacted angrily to the government’s stance, calling the decision by John Prescott, the deputy prime minister, to lay an order before parliament confirming its intentions, “provocative”.
Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary, said: “It will further inflame the anger felt by our members at the way they are being treated by their government and their employers.
“We put forward proposals that would have formed the basis for joint talks,” he said.
“The government is proposing to abolish the Rule of 85 from October this year – an order to this effect doesn’t need to be laid until the summer recess in July. This delay would have allowed further talks to take place.
“[Our] proposals have clearly been rejected by the deputy prime minister,” Prentis said. “This will simply increase our determination to see this dispute through.”