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Cameron steps into pensions strike row

David Cameron (pictured) will appeal directly to public sector workers not to strike in his speech to the LGA conference later today.

Downing Street briefed reporters that the language of the Prime Minister's speech in Birmingham would be “non-confrontational”.

He will tell the audience that the current pension arrangements in the public sector are “not fair to the taxpayer”.

Last-ditch talks aimed at preventing Thursday’s strike action failed, meaning around 750,000 teachers, lecturers and civil servants are set to walk out over the pension reforms.
Brendan Barber, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said the Government and unions were “fundamentally divided” on increasing public sector workers’ contributions and raising the pension age for government employees.

Unison, however, is thought to have been offered enough compromises to delay any strike ballot until later in the summer, in the hope of further concessions, the Guardian newspaper reported.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, and Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, said in a joint statement that the talks would now continue into July.

“We recognise that the funding basis for the local government pension scheme is different. There are important implications for how the contributions and benefits interact, as both Lord Hutton and the unions have set out. On that basis, we have agreed to have a more in-depth discussion with local government unions and the TUC about how we take these factors into account,” the statement said.

“While the talks are ongoing it is obviously disappointing that some unions have decided on industrial action. But what the recent ballot results show is that there is extremely limited support for the kind of strike action union leaders are calling for. Less than 10% of the civil service workforce has voted for strike actions and only about a third of teachers.”

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