Health workers reject pension offer
Leaders of 100,000 health service workers have rejected the Government's final offer on pensions, dealing a blow to hopes that the bitter dispute could soon be resolved.
Unite said its health sector national committee unanimously rejected the proposed deal as a basis for a satisfactory outcome to the long-running row.
General secretary Len McCluskey said the committee had turned down the Government's "pernicious attempts" to make hard-working NHS staff pay more, work longer and get less when they retire.
The move followed a decision by the British Medical Association to survey around 130,000 doctors and medical students on the Government's final offer, raising the prospect of their first industrial action ballot in more than 30 years.
Meanwhile, leaders of the NASUWT teachers' union will meet on Friday to consider the pension proposals amid speculation that they will also reject them.
Up to two million public sector workers went on strike on November 30 in the biggest outbreak of industrial unrest since the 1979 Winter of Discontent. The Government later made a final offer after a series of intensive talks with unions, leading ministers to say they hoped the dispute could finally be resolved.
The Public and Commercial Services union immediately rejected the proposed deal, and a number of unions said they would take the offer back to their executives before deciding whether to accept.
Mr McCluskey said: "The Government's attacks on public sector pensions are politically motivated as part of an overall design to privatise the NHS, cut public services, break up the national pay agreements, and disrupt legitimate trade union activities and organisation.
"Unite believes it is important to continue a campaign to maintain a fair and equitable system of public sector pensions and calls on ministers to enter into real, genuine and meaningful negotiations on the future of NHS pensions and public sector pensions."
Unite said a high proportion of NHS staff will see their pension contributions jump from the current 6.5% to 9.3% by 2014/15, and other staff will see their contributions increase by nearly 50%, with some paying 14.5% of their salary into their pensions.