"Millions" of public servants to strike in November, warns union

9th Sep 2011

Leaders of the civil servants’ union have agreed to hold a second strike over public sector pensions in November as the TUC warned that it was “prepared and ready” to coordinate national industrial action if government talks failed.

Officials said that as many as 10 unions could support the proposed walk-out which, according to Mark Serwotka, head of the Public and Commercial Services union, is likely to take place in either the middle or end of November.   He expects “millions” of public sector workers to take part and suggested that the one-day stoppage could trigger other industrial action in the run-up to Christmas. Such a turnout would dwarf a similar 24-hour stoppage by civil servants and teachers in June when an estimated 200,000 - about one-in-four - downed tools.   Serwotwa, the TUC’s general secretary Brendan Barber and leaders from Unite, the GMB and Unison all met Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander last night to reopen pension reform talks.   But Barber told the Guardian that, if discussions failed, last year’s TUC conference had endorsed the union umbrella organisation’s role in co-ordinating walk-outs nationwide.   “We have a responsibility to co-ordinate trade unions who take industrial action on this issue. We are certainly prepared and stand ready to do that,” he said.   Dave Prentis, the general secretary of Unison, the largest public sector union, attested that industrial action would be a last resort, however.   “We have always said that we are hoping for the best, but planning for the worst. Our members care deeply about the communities they serve – industrial action is always an option, but not one that we would ever take lightly,” he said.

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