Unison members say yes to November 30 strike

3 Nov 11
Unison members have voted to strike on November 30 over the government's plans for public sector pension reform

By Nick Mann | 3 November 2011

Unison members have voted to strike on November 30 over the government’s plans for public sector pension reform.

Unison strike

Results of the ballot, announced this afternoon, reveal that 245,358 of the public service union’s members voted for the action and 70,253 voted against. 

In total, 76% of members working in local government voted in favour of the action on a turnout of 30%, while 82% of the NHS members backed the action on a turnout of 25%.

Unison’s leadership had encouraged their 1.1 million members in local government and the NHS to vote ‘resoundingly’ in favour of the strike action.

And the Trades Union Congress reiterated unions’ commitment to the strike yesterday, despite the government's concessions on pensions.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis today said that the concessions did not go far enough. ‘The decisive “yes” vote in the ballot reflects the deep concern that our members have over government ministers’ proposals for their pensions,’ he said.

‘Yesterday’s statement in Parliament was a marked improvement on earlier proposals. But, it is important to understand that the statement has to be translated into offers in the scheme-specific talks. We still have had no offer in those negotiations, where such an offer can legitimately be made.

‘We support the TUC day of action on November 30, but will be negotiating right up to then and beyond to get a fair deal for our members.”

Other unions are scheduled to hold their own ballots on whether to strike on November 30 over the next few weeks.

The chair of the Local Government Association, Sir Merrick Cockell, labelled the Unison vote ‘regrettable’ and warned that it could put vital services ‘at risk’.

He stressed that council employers were still willing to talk to the unions to ensure changes to pensions did not hit the most vulnerable.

He added: ‘We urge the leaders of Unison to think twice before going ahead with this unnecessary industrial action, particularly as only 29% of their membership chose to vote.’

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude described the result of the ballot as ‘extremely disappointing’ but claimed the turnout showed there was ‘extremely limited support’ for the strike.

‘I urge the trade unions to devote their energy to reaching agreement and not to unnecessary and damaging strike action,’ he said.

Referring to yesterday’s offer of concessions, he added: ‘It is now time for the unions to respond in a responsible manner. The new deal is conditional on agreement being reached in scheme-by-scheme talks with the unions.’


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