21/09/2011 17:06 BST | Updated 21/11/2011 05:12 GMT

Ministers To Meet Unions In Attempt To Avoid Strikes

PRESS ASSOCIATION -- Talks aimed at averting a wave of strikes by public sector workers in a bitter row over pensions are to be held, with the Government saying it is committed to "genuine engagement" with the unions.

The meeting between ministers and union leaders follows the announcement by the TUC of a day of action on November 30 in protest at planned increases in the pension contributions of millions of workers.

Several unions are now preparing to hold ballots for strikes, with the aim of co-ordinating industrial action.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: "We are totally committed to genuine engagement with the unions. We have a lot to talk about and there are proposals on the table for discussion.

"Thursday's meeting with the TUC is part of ongoing talks. Central discussions have been going on for several months, and the Government is committed to working with the unions to achieve necessary reforms.

"It is extremely disappointing that the TUC is calling on union members to lose a day's pay and go on strike while serious talks are still ongoing. This is a genuine and meaningful dialogue, which includes discussions about how to implement the changes on contributions set out in the spending review.

"The Government is committed to this dialogue in order to agree a way forward. However, the unions also need to commit to genuine engagement and make constructive proposals."

Union leaders have met local government employers to discuss the dispute.

A TUC spokesman said: "We are determined to do our best to end this dispute through negotiation. But, despite many hours of talks, we have had little or no movement from ministers on the substantive issues.

"We hope that the obvious growing anger of staff across the public sector will help persuade the Government that they need to not just talk but start to seek agreement."