Gail Cartmail, Unite assistant general secretary, questions government commitment to pensions negotiations:
"This arbitrary announcement - while negotiations are continuing on the individual schemes - demonstrates that the government is not interested in genuine negotiations, but just in pushing through these changes.
"Despite the rabid tabloid headlines that these pensions are 'gold plated', the average local government pension is just £4,000-a-year and over half of female NHS employees can expect an average of £3,500-a-year – hardly a fortune after a life time of work.
"And this has been recognised by the right wing Cabinet ministers in charge of health and education respectively, Andrew Lansley and Michael Gove who have raised concerns about Treasury secretary, Danny Alexander's hardline attack on public sector pensions.
"Public sector pensions were reformed by the last government with increased contributions and later retirement ages. What Danny Alexander is attempting is to push through further changes that will drive thousands of already hard-pressed public sector workers out of these schemes and, ultimately, undermine the very viability of these schemes.
"The unions are united on this issue, but the government is divided.
"This approach is like a landlord announcing rent increases and saying they are still going to apply even after they have moved you into a much smaller property.
"The increases in 2012/3 are the first of three annual increases which, in total, go far beyond offsetting any increase in the cost of the schemes.
"The government's so-called 'consultation' is inappropriate because contributions are being proposed when the future structure of benefits is still under negotiation. While the 2012/3 increase might not be unreasonable if current benefits were going to be maintained, the government's intention is that they will be greatly reduced in value after the contributions have been raised."
- issue of the day