The “heads of agreement” signed by Unison, Unite and GMB union officials before Christmas adds up to a total betrayal on public sector pensions.
It is not a final deal. But it says that the basis of all negotiations will be the government’s so-called final offer, meaning a drastic cut in pensions.
Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury, told parliament the deal will cut “tens of billions of pounds in decades to come” from pensions.
It will still see workers pay up to 50 percent more in and work until 68. Yet they will still get less out thanks to a switch in the measure of inflation and shift to schemes based on average salary.
“These heads of agreement deliver the government’s key objectives in full, and do so with no new money since our November offer,” Alexander said, referring to an offer made before the 30 November strike.
Tory millionaire Francis Maude went further, crowing that this showed “strike action does not work”.
The negotiations would only be able to shuffle the government’s crumbs around in a vain attempt to lessen the impact on workers.
But they have not had it all their way.
The PCS civil service workers’ union has led the way in rejecting the deal. Now many of the larger unions are coming on board and saying “no”.
Last week health workers in the Unite union rejected the agreement in the NHS.
This week they were followed by Unite local government workers, who voted by a majority on the executive to reject.
The two main teachers’ unions, the NUT and NASUWT, both rejected the deal last week.
Lecturers’ union UCU and Welsh teachers’ union UCAC have not signed. Nipsa, Northern Ireland’s biggest public service union, has also refused the deal.
In contrast Unison’s local government executive voted to accept the deal. Its health executive was voting as Socialist Worker went to press.
Unions were set to meet at the TUC this Thursday to talk about the way forward.