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Treasury concludes talks with unions over NHS pensions

The government stands accused of attempting to “steamroller” its public sector pension reform through parliament as it officially ends talks with NHS unions.

The Treasury has published its 'final' offer with small and subtle changes from its position back in December.

The updated offer includes more flexibility around partial retirement and returning to work after retirement.

Trade union Unite has urged NHS members to reject the proposals, claiming the government has “avoided” any “meaningful negotiations” over the past year.  

It urged ministers to reopen talks.

“The coalition's mask has finally dropped - it is pushing through a pensions' package without having held real and genuine negotiations over the last year,” said Unite's Assistant General Secretary Gail Cartmail.

“Ministers are using these hefty increases in pension contributions as an additional unfair tax on NHS workers to pay for the deficit caused by reckless bankers who have played havoc with the British economy and caused misery to millions of working people and their families.

Dean Royles, Director of the NHS Employers, said it is time to move beyond the headlines and “into the bones of the scheme”.

"After intensive and at times challenging discussions, it is right that NHS staff now have the opportunity to thoroughly consider the costs, benefits and features of the NHS pension proposals and what it means for them now and in the future,” he said.  

"It is essential that all parties now focus on helping staff to make informed decisions.”

Almost two-thirds of nurses polled by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in February voted to reject the government's proposed NHS pension's overhaul.
However, the relatively low turnout of nurses who chose to vote (16%) served as a “disappointment” to the Chair of the RCN Council. 

Commenting on the latest government proposal, RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary, Dr Peter Carter, said the fundamental issues of concerns “remain the same”.

Question: In light of the government's stance, do you think the trade unions and professional bodies should continue balloting NHS members on strike action?