The government will today outline progress made on the public sector pensions dispute, which remains unresolved despite lengthy talks.
Most unions involved in the row are set to take the final offer from ministers to meetings of executives in the New Year for officials to decide the next move. Progress was made in talks covering teachers, local government workers and NHS staff.
But the largest civil service union, the Public and Commercial Services, reiterated its view that further industrial action would be necessary to stop the government’s attempt to “force” public servants to pay more and work longer for less in retirement.
The Treasury said: “The government has reached agreement on the main elements of scheme design with some trade union negotiators regarding proposals for public service pension reform. We welcome these agreements and the constructive approach taken by many trades unions.”
Unison’s head of health Christina McAnea said: “This is the government’s final offer. On some issues, such as contribution rates for the low-paid next year, and for people close to retirement, we have made progress. On others, we always knew this would be a damage-limitation exercise aimed at reducing the worst impacts of the government’s pension changes.
“We’ve always believed public sector workers deserve decent pensions and our members have shown they are willing to take action to defend these.”
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “It’s important to stress that no agreements have been reached, but unions now have proposals to put to their executives and members. “We have reached a stage where the emphasis in most cases is in giving active consideration to the new proposals that have emerged rather than considering the prospect of further industrial action.
“We have been talking for many months but since the day of action that involved millions and with the intensive discussions over recent days we now see change. Accrual rates are more favourable then were originally proposed, there is enhanced protection for those nearing retirement, Fair Deal protection for those whose jobs transfer out of the public sector and there will be no adverse changes to pensions for 25 years.”