Civil servants confirm rejection of pay more, work longer, get less

Senior elected representatives of the Public and Commercial Services union, by far the largest union in the civil service, today (11) confirmed a rejection of the government's planned cuts to public sector pensions.

A meeting of the union's national executive committee unanimously agreed that further co-ordinated industrial action should be organised if the government continues to refuse to negotiate on the key issues of forcing public sector workers to pay more and work longer for a worse pension.

The NEC also agreed that if the government follows through on its threat to exclude the union – which represents 250,000 civil and public servants – from future discussions it would consider taking legal action and ask the TUC to back a challenge to the move.

Across the public sector – in the civil service, education, local government and health – unions representing around one million public sector workers have already either rejected or refused to sign up to the government's 'heads of agreement' offer.

While making some limited concessions, this offer confirms contributions would rise from April, the retirement age would be linked to the rising state pension age meaning people would have to work up to eight years longer, and the imposed switch in indexation for pensions would remain – amounting to a cut in the value of pensions of around 15% to 20%.

The PCS executive also agreed that it would reconvene for a special meeting next Thursday (19) to consider the positions of the other public sector unions, which will be reported at tomorrow's (12) meeting of the TUC's public sector group, and the possibility of further industrial action.

The union says there has been no movement on the core issues since the two million-strong public sector strike on 30 November, with Treasury minister Danny Alexander stating in the Commons on 20 December that the government had met all its objectives "with no new money" since the offer on 2 November that was immediately rejected by all the unions.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "From the very start ministers have quite obviously tried to suffocate the pensions talks, to bully and mislead, and to impose their will on millions of civil servants, teachers, council staff and health workers.

"We have consistently called for proper negotiations on the key issues of paying more and working longer for less, but the government has refused at every point, leaving us with no choice but to oppose what is nothing more than a political attempt to make the least culpable pay the highest price for the failings of the banks.

"We have told ministers we expect to be included in any future discussions. But we are clear that, with no significant movement since two million public servants took strike action together on 30 November, further co-ordinated industrial action will be necessary to stop these unfair and entirely unnecessary plans."