Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

More public workers vote for strike

RMT general secretary Bob Crow has accused the Government of looking to 'hammer nurses, teachers and transport workers'

More public-sector workers have voted to go on strike over the Government's controversial pension reforms as the Cabinet was briefed on contingency plans being drawn up to deal with the mass walkout next week.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said its members at the Tyne and Wear Metro, employed by DB Regio and Nexus, have voted by 4-1 for strike action, and by a larger majority for action short of a strike.

More than two million public sector workers are now set to strike on November 30 during the TUC day of action, threatening the biggest day of industrial unrest since the 1979 Winter of Discontent.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "Only this morning we learn that top bosses' pay has gone through the roof, opening up a gap between rich and poor not seen since Victorian times, while the men and women who provide essential public services are expected to stand back and watch the pensions that they have built up down the years take a battering.

"We have also learnt that Tory minister Francis Maude, who is behind the attack on our members' pensions, is in line for a personal pension pot of £731,000 and an annual income of £43,000 when he hangs up his axe - all funded by the taxpayer.

"The hypocrisy of this Government, who are looking to hammer nurses, teachers and transport workers while they fill their boots at our expense, is breathtaking."

Prime Minister David Cameron's official spokesman said: "We are expecting unions to give notice of their intention to strike in the next couple of days, so we will have more clarity in the next few days about who is likely to go on strike.

"Obviously there is contingency planning under way across the public sector and across public departments. There was a brief update at Cabinet from some departments on their contingency plans."

Unite has published a "dossier of hypocrisy", which the union said exposed the pensions of cabinet ministers if they were to retire at the end of the current term of office in 2015. A typical public sector worker would have to work three working lifetimes to earn the pension of Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, said the union.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: "As people are living longer it is only fair that they work for a bit longer before drawing their pension. Costs have risen by one third over the last 10 years so it is right that we should ask all but the lowest paid to contribute more."

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