Mark Serwotka refutes government claims he refused to attend negotiation meetings


PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka has responded to claims in The Times that he had not attended any of the negotiating meetings between Francis Maude and the other union leaders.

The Cabinet Office minister, who served in Margaret Thatcher’s government and last month warned he would re-write laws to make it harder for unions to go on strike, accused Mark Serwotka of refusing to attend the meetings over public sector pensions, a claim flatly denied by the union.

In a letter to the newspaper, Mark Serwotka wrote:

Sir, Your leading article (Dec 21) suggests I have refused to attend the negotiations over public sector pensions.

PCS has attended every single meeting since they started.

As part of the TUC negotiating team, I have attended every meeting centrally with Francis Maude and Danny Alexander.

My deputy Hugh Lanning has attended all meetings with their officials. However, they have only been able to discuss ways of implementing the government’s proposals, when what we need are proper negotiations on the issues of substance: imposing a tax on millions of public servants by increasing pensions contributions, raising the pension age even though the schemes are affordable and sustainable, and switching indexation from RPI to CPI.

Far from “walking away”, as Mr Alexander claimed in parliament, we want to negotiate on these things. But the government is attempting to exclude us from future discussions.

PCS has refused to sign the heads of agreement, saying nothing has changed since before the strike on November 30th, with workers still expected to work longer, pay more and receive less.

UNISON and GMB have signed up to the agreement, promising further talks in the New Year, while EIS, NUSUWT, NUT, UCU and Unite have refused, saying they will consult their members first.

Unions’ executives will consider the government’s offer early in the New Year before reporting back to the TUC’s Public Sector Liaison Group on January 12th.

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