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Employment law: Public sector workers threaten industrial action over pension dispute

Nationwide strikes in schools, universities, courts and other public sector services could take place this June, following the introduction of a new pension scheme.

The changes devised by Labour ex-minister Lord Hutton, which involve scrapping generous final salaries and also putting the retirement age back for some civil servants, have spurred trade unions to ballot for strike action.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers are two trade unions that will be balloting this week. The other unions await the outcome of the Trades Union Congress talks with the government.

If the TUC and the government cannot come to an agreement, it is anticipated that mass walk-outs will take place on June 30.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS, is strongly encouraging civil servants to strike. He claims that the "coalition government seeks to make the public sector workforce pay for the crisis, through cuts to jobs, services, pay and pensions".

He said, "We will need to be creative in our campaigning, tough in our bargaining, and prepared to take action."

Workers who decide to take part in industrial action are usually protected from losing their job as a result. If they do find themselves being fired for taking part in industrial action, they may be able to claim unfair dismissal.

Related links:
Read more on this story (Guardian)
Read about taking part in industrial action (FindLaw)
Find local employment solicitors throughout the UK (FindLaw)