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Pensions strikes still on despite ministers’ improved offer

Public sector pension strikes look set to go ahead despite the Government’s improved offer, which would see GPs’ expected level of post-retirement income rise 8% and protect GPs within 10 years of retirement from the changes.

The TUC has indicated that it intends to press ahead with industrial action on 30 November that could involve as many as three million public sector workers, including thousands of practice staff.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, BMA chair, said: ‘The Government’s claim that many staff will get a better deal is questionable when you take into account that they will have to work for up to eight additional years, and pay a huge amount more in contributions.’

‘Along with our colleagues in the other health unions, we will carefully consider the detail of this proposal, and seek the feedback of our members.’

Andy Blake, the BMA’s head of pensions, added: ‘Ultimately, it all still means that most doctors and other NHS workers will be working longer, paying more and getting less. Younger members have been offered very little – and they will be the hardest hit. That is why I would be very surprised if unions have been dissuaded from pressing ahead with their plans for the day of action on pensions on 30 November.’

Although GPs will not be striking on 30 November, the BMA has asked them to show their support for colleagues on the day.

Chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, made a statement to the Commons that set out the Government’s revised offer for the future accrual of public sector pensions, including the NHS Pension Scheme, on Wednesday. He suggested that if the unions did take a strike action that new offer would be withdrawn.

But Mr Alexander later adopted a more diplomatic tone, as Government sources made clear that the offer would not be withdrawn if the strike goes ahead.

‘This offer is conditional on reaching agreement. I hope we will reach agreement. It is a positive offer. The conditionality is more carrot than stick. But of course I reserve the right to reconsider whether these enhancements are appropriate under circumstances where agreement is not reached,’ the chief secretary to the Treasury told reporters.