The NUT, PCS, UCU and EIS unions could be part of a 750,000-strong strike on 28 March.
The Tories have unilaterally declared that the majority of their talks with unions are over.
These had been over government plans to “reform” public sector pensions in health, education and the civil service. Talks over local government pensions are continuing.
The Tories want to impose serious attacks on millions of workers in these sectors.
This is despite the fact that a number of union leaderships have rejected the plans and many are still consulting members.
The government wants to force public sector workers to work longer, pay more into their pensions each month and get less when they retire.
It plans to impose stark rises on workers’ pension contributions from next month.
Carl, a teacher and NUT member in Bolton, told Socialist Worker, “What’s happening is a disgrace and I’m prepared to strike indefinitely.
“I know many people who are considering withdrawing from the pension scheme because of the changes.
“Private sector workers often don’t pay into pension schemes because they don’t trust them.Unfortunately we no longer trust ours either.”
A treasury minister last week said that talks with the unions over changes to health, education and civil service pensions were “constructive”. Unions disagree.
NUT general secretary Christine Blower said, “The NUT has not signed up to these proposals and neither has the majority of the other teacher unions.
“We cannot accept our members being asked to pay so much more and work so much longer for their pensions and receive so much less in retirement.”
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said, “Ministers’ obstinacy means we have this ludicrous charade of what is now our fourth ‘final’ offer. We will continue to talk to other unions about planning further widespread coordinated industrial action.”
Unison said it would ballot its 450,000 members in the NHS on the offer. The GMB promised to consult members in the NHS and civil service.
And Unite denounced the government for “having avoided any meaningful negotiations over the last year”.
It is “recommending that its members in the NHS, Ministry of Defence and government departments and in teaching reject the proposals”. The union is consulting its NHS members.
Workers in public sector unions overwhelmingly voted for discontinuous strikes against the pension attacks last year.
This means that unions already have a mandate to call further strikes, regardless of fresh consultations.
Anna, a teacher in Somerset, said, “People don’t see a consultation in the same way as an official ballot and so may not feel the need to vote in the same way. If the turnout is low, unions should still call the strike.
“NUT members at my school are for taking action on 28 March. And they don’t just want it to be one day—they support further action after that too.”
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