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GMB members overwhelmingly reject pension deal

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NHS workers in the GMB union have voted to reject the government’s “final” pension deal by a majority of 96.5%.

The union, which has 30,000 members working across the health service, achieved a turnout of 30% for the vote.

Its members include paramedics, ambulance staff, hospital and community nurses and ancillary staff working in cleaning, catering and maintenance, as well as some working as office support staff.

Rehana Azam, GMB national officer for the NHS, said: “The ballot is a clear mandate voiced by the members to reject the proposals.

“The GMB’s consultative bodies for NHS, Ambulance and Nursing will meet later this week to decide the next steps. In addition the GMB will continue to meet with other NHS unions and will continue to press government to make progress on the issues outstanding.”

The Unite union has already rejected the deal on behalf of its members and also held a consultative ballot in which 94% of members voted against the deal. It took part in the recent “day of action” on 10 May in protest at the proposals, which will see contributions rise for most.

The two largest health sector unions, Unison and the Royal College of Nursing, are considering their next move, after acknowledging that their low turnouts did not give them sufficient mandate to make a decision to accept or reject.

Unison was split evenly on the pensions deal, with a low turnout of just 14 per cent. Similarly, the RCN managed a 16 per cent turnout, though 62 per cent voted to reject the deal.

The college has however indicated it will continue to fight the government over its proposal to increase the retirement age to 68. RCN chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter branded the hike in retirement age as “ridiculous” at last week’s RCN Congress.

Meanwhile, the Royal College of Midwives announced earlier this month that it had “unwillingly” accepted the deal, following a consultation with its members.

The British Medical Association is currently balloting doctors on plans to take industrial action.

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