A quarter of a million nurses will be balloted over industrial action unless the government gives “significant” ground in negotiations on the future of public sector pensions, a union has warned.
Following recommendations made by Lord Hutton in March, the government is looking to bring public sector pensions more in line with those of the private sector.
As a result, NHS staff could receive smaller pensions while their contributions could rise by an average of 50% from next April. Chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander meanwhile insisted the public sector retirement age will rise to 66.
A spokeswoman for Unison told Nursing Times the union would be looking for “significant movement from the government” on the plans at a crunch meeting on 27 June.
“It’s simply unacceptable to have nurses and other health workers paying more for less,” she said.
The union warned it was a question of “when” not “if” it would ballot its 1.3 million members - of whom 250,000 are nurses - for industrial action should the government refuse to give ground.
Last week, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said the union would move to a ballot in summer or early autumn if negotiations failed. He said: “It will be long-term industrial action throughout all our public services.”
Unison would coordinate action with other unions, the spokeswoman said.
Royal College of Nursing senior employment relations adviser Gerry O’Dwyer told Nursing Times: “Our view is that the discussions have to conclude and we need to take a view ourselves about where we are after that.”
But he noted RCN Congress in April had said the college should consider industrial action over threats to terms and conditions or employment benefits. “The membership saw pensions within that,” he said.