Unison threatens to fight public sector cuts and ballot for strikes over pension changes

The largest public sector union has threatened to fight public sector cuts and ballot for strikes if pensions are reduced.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, which represents 1.3 million public sector workers, has vowed to unite with other unions to lead a joint campaign against government plans to “gut our public sector”.

In a speech at the Unison conference yesterday, he said: “We will give our full support to any branch that is forced to resort to industrial action to defend jobs. We will build an alliance of all public service unions – a united campaign, to break the pay freeze, and if we find ourselves faced with a concerted attack on our pensions, then we will ballot for national industrial action.

“If this government picks a fight with us, then we will be ready. And if this government picks a fight, we will be fierce defenders of our members, and the services they deliver; the next four years will test us all. Test our resolve. Test our nerve.”

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has warned 725,000 public sector jobs could be axed over the next five years.

Prentis accused the new government of not wanting to support public sector workers during the recession but rather “they want to throw you on the dole, freeze your pay, raid your pensions”.

The union called on the coalition to “start cutting out contractors and management consultants” rather than making cuts to pay and conditions.

The government has already announced it will seek £1.15bn in savings this year by cutting “discretionary areas”, including consultancy fees.

Prentis also called for a pay freeze for bankers rather than for public sector workers.

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