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Deal on public sector pensions possible despite strike

By Alan Jones

A Government minister has said there was a “very realistic possibility” of reaching a deal on public sector pensions despite the huge strike by workers and threats of more industrial action.

Unions said Wednesday’s walkout was the biggest since the 1979 Winter of Discontent, maintaining that up to two million workers, ranging from lollipop ladies and school cleaners to head teachers and nuclear physicists, had taken part.

The Government said the figure was wrong, with Prime Minister David Cameron telling the Commons the strike was a “damp squib”.

Talks were held yesterday between the Government and teaching unions, and with health unions today, as efforts continue to head off further industrial action.

Education Secretary Michael Gove met teaching unions yesterday, describing the talks as “cordial”, with officials saying the two sides were discussing how a new teacher pension scheme would work.

Talks on the NHS scheme will be held today and further discussions are expected in the coming weeks.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander told BBC TV: “There is a very realistic possibility of reaching agreement,” adding that there was still a lot of detail to be discussed with the unions.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said she approached the talks in a “positive” way and would continue to work in good faith to find a settlement.

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