15/03/2006

Council workers vote in favour of strike

Council staff have voted in favour of strike action in protest over proposed changes to local government pensions.

More than a million staff, including cooks, refuse collectors and civilian police support staff, will stage a walkout on March 28, in what will be the biggest industrial action in the UK since the General Strike of 1926.

The pensions row centres on 'Rule 85', which allows staff to retire at 60 on full pension if their combined age and years of service amount to 85.

The government said that the rule will have to be scrapped in order to comply with new EU age discrimination legislation and this would mean all local government staff would have to work until the age of 65.

The unions say that the government has refused to give protection for existing members of the pension scheme.

The members of eight trade unions, including Unison, the Transport and General Workers Union and the GMB, will take part in the strike.

Union leaders have also warned that there could be further strike action over the issue.

Dave Prentis, Unison General Secretary, said: "By refusing to pay out on the Local Government Pension Scheme, especially when they have given protection to every other government pension scheme, the government has destroyed the retirement plans of tens of thousands of public sector workers.

"It is simply immoral that the employers' association doesn't come clean and admit that they have already spent the pension funds paid in good faith by LGPS members. This is a pensions con.

"Civil servants, teachers, police, firefighters and the NHS have all been given protection for existing members of their pension schemes, so there is absolutely no rhyme or reason in singling out LGPS members for such unfair and unjust treatment."

(KMcA/GB)




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