The recall of parliament to pay tribute to Margret Thatcher might have turned into the predictable “She was lucky to know me” Tory love-in had it not been for Glenda Jackson. So awesome is Glenda’s speech that no comment is needed from me!
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, was particularly critical about the way the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, trumpeted draft agreements with most unions covering most staff in the civil service, NHS, local government and education last month.
“The process the Department for Education used to seek to reach agreement by its imposed deadline of 20 December was a debacle,” Keates said.
“Unions were pressurised and threatened to sign up to a document when a final draft was not even available, and even when a document was produced as the final meeting was breaking up, overnight the wording was changed unilaterally by the department.”
The move opens up the very distinct possibility of another round of industrial action with both unions demanding further negotiations.
The government played down the result with its now typical dismissive arrogance: “It’s disappointing the NUT and NASUWT restated their position on last month’s deal. We’ve already addressed many of teachers’ concerns, particularly around early retirement. We are now ready to have detailed, technical discussions to reach a final settlement – but have made clear that the broad deal on the table is as good as it gets,” a spokesman said, adding, in a feeble attempt to continue it’s failing divide and conquer tactic, “Other unions have given a far more positive response and will be consulting with their executives later this month.”
The health union Unite has raised the possibility of further strikes by rejecting the government’s “politically motivated” final offer of pensions. Unite’s general secretary Len McCluskey: “The government’s attacks on public sector pensions are politically motivated, as part of an overall design to privatise the NHS, cut public services, break-up the national pay agreements, and disrupt legitimate trade union activities and organisation.
“Unite believes it is important to continue a campaign to maintain a fair and equitable system of public sector pensions and calls on ministers to enter into real, genuine and meaningful negotiations on the future of NHS pensions and public sector pensions.”
The move by Britain’s second largest union, which represents over 100,000 health workers, comes as the British Medical Association (BMA) prepare to survey 130,000 doctors and medical students over a possible ballot.
The government’s Divide and Conquer tactics over pensions seems to be just one more failing policy.