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SECOND UNION BALLOTS FOR STRIKE OVER PENSIONS

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The T&G has announced its intention to ballot 70,000 members in local government for industrial action over controv...
The T&G has announced its intention to ballot 70,000 members in local government for industrial action over controversial plans to change council workers' pension schemes. The T&G's announcement comes shortly after Unison* declared that it would also be balloting members on the same issue.

The T&G says that members are angry about plans to make local government workers 'work longer for less', and consultations with members have indicated that they are prepared to take action to fight the pension changes.

Peter Allenson, T&G national secretary for public services, said:

'The government is intent on making hard-pressed council workers work longer for less. We reject a 'work 'til you drop' culture and the government should be setting an example in pension provision rather than pushing through cuts to benefits.

'Local government workers receive an average pension of just£3,800pa, well below the average pension in the economy as a whole. If the government makes pension cuts to an already low-paid workforce we would have serious concerns about members' poverty in retirement. Council leaders and government cannot ignore the implications of these changes.'

The government is planning to raise the retirement age for local government workers from 1 April 2005 from 60 to 65 and to scrap the rule allowing council workers to take early retirement with a secure income. T&G members working in councils across the country fear that not only will their retirement age be affected, but that these changes will be the first in a line of reductions to pensions' benefits. The union said the net effect of the proposals would be worse pension benefits for higher levels of contributions.

The T&G's industrial action ballot is expected to close on 9 March.

* Unison statement

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