Unions poised for winter of strikes
Unions look set to move closer to a winter of strikes, despite a warning from the Government that walkouts will be greeted with "little enthusiasm" by workers.
More than a million public sector workers could be involved in a one day walkout in the last week of November in protest against planned changes to their pensions, which will see contributions increase by 3.2.%.
An announcement of co-ordinated action is likely to be made following a debate at the TUC conference in London on Wednesday, when unions will line up to attack the Government.
Widespread ballots for action are expected to be held, adding to support for strikes already given by civil servants, teachers and lecturers, heralding the biggest outbreak of industrial unrest for decades.
Plans to co-ordinate industrial action will be discussed at the TUC, but sources said a large number of unions are now moving towards balloting for strikes.
Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister who is leading negotiations for the Government, said he is not trying to provoke unions into industrial action, adding that any strike call will be greeted with little enthusiasm from workers and even less sympathy from the general public.
"We don't want strikes and the public will be very fed up if there are widespread strikes which close schools and affect health services and transport," he added.
Meanwhile, Labour leader Ed Miliband was heckled on Tuesday when he told the TUC conference that strikes over public sector pensions were a mistake.
He said he understands why millions of workers are angry, adding: "But while negotiations were going on, I do believe it was a mistake for strikes to happen. I continue to believe that. What we need now is meaningful negotiation to prevent further confrontation over this autumn."
Some of the 300 delegates shouted out "shame" and took issue with Mr Miliband's message, and during a question and answer session after his speech the Labour leader drew more shouts of disagreement when he defended academy schools, saying two in his Doncaster North constituency had made a big difference to education standards.