Unison ready to ballot on strike action over council pension reform proposals

Furious union officials have threatened to ballot one million workers over strike action after a new Local Government Pension Scheme was proposed in Parliament.

Local government minister Phil Woolas announced reforms to the scheme on Thursday, claiming they were the result of widespread consultation. But Unison says his “hostile intervention” killed talks between unions and employer groups that were taking place that day.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “This is an absolutely irresponsible act. Neither the unions nor the employers knew anything about the minister’s proposed actions. Is this the way to promote good industrial relations?”

On Wednesday, more than 1,000 council workers, including dinner ladies and teaching assistants, converged on Parliament to highlight their case for better pensions.

Local government employers want to cut pension rights, with limited protection for existing scheme members.

Woolas told Parliament: “Our objective has always been to provide a viable Local Government Pension Scheme, flexible both for existing and future members, but affordable to employers and fair to the tax payers that underwrite it.”

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