Pensions Crisis Hits The Fan
Over a million local government staff across the country have gone on strike today over their pensions. Services provided by local councils, such as schools, libraries, sport centres, refuse colleection and transport are suffering as a result. Eleven trade unions are involved, the biggest of which being Unison, whose General Secretary Dave Prentis claims that "strike action is the only option left to local government workers."
The strike is over plans to scrap a rule allowing some people to retire on a full pension at 60, which the government says is discriminatory. The Unions hit back, by saying that the government plans are in fact discriminatory, as many of the staff affected are women in low-paid council jobs, and that the proposal will just increase the gender pay gap in the UK.
So what of the implications for the government? Well, it is seen as a real failure for Gordon Brown, as it is part of the pensions black hole that he has presided over as Chancellor. It certainly doesn't bode well for his Prime Ministerial prospects. In fact, Brown pissed off strikers earlier today when he walked straight past a picket without saying a word. The negotiation talks are apparently being undertaken by Deputy PM John Prescott, so we probably won't see a resolution anytime soon.