A last ditch attempt by the government to secure an agreement on public sector pensions is likely to fail and risk more strikes, a union leader said on Monday morning.
Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) head Mark Serwotka has said ministers have failed to compromise and warned of more strikes, saying the unions have got to "keep our resolve".
"This is a political move by the government targeting public sector pensions for deficit reduction and in that sense it's proved quite difficult to find any ground in the middle, although we're still committed to try to do that," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
But as Serwotka dug in, the NUT's Christine Blower said staff were "close to a deal" on pensions and the Press Association reported a "heads of agreement" was approved for heath workers and would be put to their national executive committee in the new year.
Downing Street said on Monday morning that meetings were ongoing - although they admitted there was "more progress" on some schemes than others. "We have been continuing to talk to unions in recent days about the pension reforms. We have always said that we wanted to reach an agreement before the end of the year and we remain hopeful of doing so.
A defiant Serwotka, however, said unions had been given a deadline of 3pm to sign up to "everything we've been opposing".
"I have to say, although I'm a born optimist and it's the season of goodwill, I don't see any evidence that's likely to happen today, which is why for the unions the key thing going into the New Year is that we absolutely redouble our efforts to say, people went on strike for important points," he said.
In November an estimated two million public sector workers went on strike as part of the dispute over pension changes, closing schools and causing delays to services across the country.
Speaking to Huff Post UK at the time, Serwotka said “We will carry on trying to defend peoples’ retirement for as long as it takes until we get an acceptable outcome.”