Following yesterday’s strikes over public pensions, a meeting is being held between the teaching unions and the Department of Education officials. In regard to the meetings Liberal Democrat Minister Danny Alexander claimed there was a “very good chance” of reaching a peaceful negotiation before the new year.
Today’s meetings will take place in order to secure a deal and prevent possible further industrial action. Government Ministers will not attend the encounters, nor those for the health service unions scheduled for Friday.
Yesterday’s striking unions campaigned against public sector workers having to work for longer and pay more into their pensions. The unions claim that this proposal means that public sector workers will end up working longer for less as they attempt to earn their pensions.
David Cameron remarked that disruption from the strike had been less significant than “what the unions had told to expect” and dismissed the strike as a “damp squib”. However union members today remained positive that the strike was effective in ensuring that a fair negotiation is reached. Trades Union Congress (TUC) General Secretary Brendan Barber claimed the government couldn’t ignore the strikes as she stated, “Up to two million public service workers have stopped work to send a strong and united message to the Government. Ministers cannot dismiss the stand taken by these ordinary decent people”.
Although the Government proposed offers to the unions in October, the unions are looking for revised settlements. If agreed deals are not reached, more strike actions may be eminent. The General Secretary of the University and College Union, Sally Hunt said, “If we cannot make progress we may need to consider further strike and other action alongside our colleagues in other unions where appropriate”.
However Danny Alexander remained hopeful this would not be a possibility, claiming, “The Government is committed to achieving an agreement, as are most trade union leaders”.