Unison trade union members have voted to strike later this month in the latest escalation in the long-running dispute over changing public sector pensions. It was the largest industrial action ballot of union members in British history.
Unison is the first of several unions expected to agree to strike action on 30 November, in what could be the largest of its kind in decades. 245,358 Unison members voted in favour of the walkout, with 70,253 voting against. Turnout was 28% of those balloted.
On Wednesday the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander outlined an 8% increase on the government's previous public sector pension settlement, adding that no worker within 10 years of retirement will need to worry about their own contributions going up.
But this revised package was rejected by the unions, with PCS leader Mark Serwotka saying the latest concessions were only marginal and would still force public servants to pay more in and work longer for less in retirement.
Negotiations on changes to public sector pensions have been going on since February 2011. The government has always insisted that the meetings with union leaders have been 'productive' but the unions themselves have consistently said that ministers have failed to give any ground on their demands. Yesterday's concessions from the government were billed as a 'take it or leave it' package in off-record briefings.