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Warning on public sector pensions

Public sector workers have been warned that it would be a "colossal mistake" to spurn the Government's pensions deal and sacrifice the best offer they will be made "for years to come".

Against the threat of a wave of industrial action, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander urged rank-and-file union members to help "shape" the current reforms now or face "uncompromising" change later.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, the Liberal Democrat Cabinet minister insisted that reform was unavoidable and that, by working with the Government, "better change can happen" for those affected.

His intervention appeared designed to undermine union leaders ahead of a day of strikes by up to 750,000 teachers and civil servants on June 30.

Public sector workers are facing changes to their pensions which, for most, will mean paying more - on average 3.2% - and working longer.

But ministers insist that the changes are necessary given spending cuts, rising life expectancy, and when most private sector workers do not enjoy such generous pensions.

Mr Alexander said low and middle earners in the public sector would still receive "broadly as generous" pensions after the changes as they do now.

"It is disappointing that a minority of unions seem hell-bent on premature strike action before these discussions are even complete," he said. "They are misrepresenting the Government's position and feeding their members scare stories. A strike now might be in the interests of the union's boss, but it is not in the interests of its members."

Stressing that only one in five members of the Public and Commercial Services union had voted for strike action, he said union bosses would "sacrifice your pension for their political platform".

Strike votes by the National Union of Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers were also backed by only a minority of members. The strikes are set to close schools and sixth form colleges, jobcentres, government offices and courts. They will also involve prison staff, police community support officers, immigration officials and staff at the DVLA.

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From Belfast Telegraph