No end to pensions impasse as walkout nears

By Alex Stevenson

Unions are no closer to calling off planned strikes over public sector pensions, Brendan Barber has said.

The TUC general secretary emerged from the Cabinet Office to pledge that preparations were continuing for strike action on November 30th.

The government called the discussions "constructive". Unions and ministers are currently at a deadlock over plans to increase pension contributions and raise the retirement age to 66 in line with the private sector.

"We must try to establish a secure basis for people's pensions in the years ahead," Mr Barber told reporters.

"We remain absolutely committed to the process, but we remain firmly committed to the action planned as well."

Ten unions are balloting for strike action on November 30th, adding to the four unions who have already balloted prior to strike action earlier this year.

Mr Barber said the details of any agreement would have to be worked out on a scheme-by-scheme level, but called on the government to give an undertaking that it would change direction.

No such sign was emerging from Whitehall after the talks, however.

"We are continuing to engage fully with the TUC on reforming public service pensions and have had another constructive meeting today," a government spokesperson said.

"This meeting is part of an ongoing series of talks on pensions reform to which the government committed with the TUC."