Green light for pension talks

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UNION activists have voted to give their negotiators the green light to continue discussions with Government ministers on changes to public sector pensions.

More than 250 key activists met at Unison’s headquarters to discuss the details of the proposals for the Local Government and Health pension schemes.

Campaigners said the strike action on November 30, which affected scores of services across Hartlepool and east Durham and across the country, “strengthened the hand” of national negotiators.

But they say there is still scope for further strike action if negotiations fail as their industrial action ballot is ongoing.

They agreed to the frameworks negotiators have developed with Government ministers since the day of the strike.

Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary, said the union’s elected activists from every service group, including local government, police, water, and health, endorsed the framework proposals Unison has negotiated, paving the way for more in-depth talks.

He added: “Our health members gave their support to talks on the NHS scheme entering a final phase, due to end in late January.

“When we have a final offer, we will take it back to members in a full ballot.

“Our action on November 30 got ministers back to the table, since then we have made some real progress.

“No contribution rises in local government until 2014 will be a real boost for many families that are hard hit by the pay freeze, and struggling to cope.

“The overwhelming majority of NHS scheme members won’t face contribution rate rises in 2012.

 “We will continue to campaign to secure the best possible deal, which our members will then be consulted on.”