Pension row unions in day of action
The TUC has announced a day of action on November 30, pledging the biggest union mobilisation in a generation after a simmering row over public sector pensions boiled over into strike plans.
Up to three million workers, ranging from firefighters and school dinner ladies to social workers and driving test examiners, are set to take part in the action, including stoppages, meetings, rallies and joint events with community groups.
The walkout, a day after the Chancellor makes his autumn statement on the economy, will herald months of industrial unrest in a major challenge to the Government.
Ministers accused unions of "rushing" into action while negotiations were continuing, and business leaders urged the Government to "stick to its guns" in the face of the threatened disruption to public services.
One union leader said the action would not be just one day, but would run "through the winter, into next year and following the legislative programme right into the summer".
More than 20 unions are set to be involved in the action, including those representing council workers, NHS staff, teachers, civil servants, firefighters and nurses in secure hospitals.
Unions made a series of announcements about strike ballots during a highly-charged debate at the TUC Congress in London when anger at the Government's plans to increase pension contributions by over 3% spilled over.
Unison, Unite, the GMB and the Fire Brigades Union all gave notice of ballots, which will be held in the coming weeks even though talks with the Government are set to continue.
Chancellor George Osborne said union bosses were behaving in a "deeply irresponsible" way and urged them to get back to the negotiating table.
"Everyone who is sensible accepts that public sector pensions have to be reformed. That was the view of John Hutton, who was a Labour pensions minister, and the offer on the table is for public sector pensions that are far better than the kind of pensions that you would get in the private sector in most cases, but are also fair to taxpayers."