Unions warn on pension strike talks
The Government has been warned that its plans to raise pension contributions for public sector workers provide "no opportunity" for averting a huge outbreak of industrial action.
Another meeting between union leaders and ministers failed to end the deadlocked row, with time running out on reaching a deal.
Thousands of civil servants from the Prospect and FDA unions started voting on whether to strike, raising the threat of a walkout by millions of workers on November 30.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said after the brief meeting in Whitehall: "We have made it very clear that the current approach provides no opportunity for us to reach an agreement.
"We have urged them to reconsider their approach to enable negotiations in each of the schemes - NHS, local government, civil service and teaching - to have a chance of reaching an agreement."
Mr Barber said Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander and Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude had agreed to consider the unions' plea.
Mr Barber said the Government had now given unions their planned funding levels for the major public sector pension schemes, but he warned the two sides were now heading for a "very difficult conflict".
Talks have been continuing since the start of the year, but had now reached an "impasse".
He added: "I hope they change their position, but our plans for November 30 are going ahead very strongly."
Mr Alexander said as he left the Cabinet Office that the Government had made a "very good, positive" offer which protected the pensions of public sector workers, but he added: "The discussions have many more moves to go."