UK - Shadow work and pensions secretary Philip Hammond (pictured) has warned the Labour government that any future Conservative government would not consider itself bound by public sector pension deals struck by the current government.
Speaking at the Politeia pensions conference on Monday, Hammond said: The government capitulated too easily on public sector pensions because of the political difficulties it was facing at the time.
“That is why a future conservative government will not consider itself bound by a Labour government promise, regarding public sector pensions.
The statement is the latest bout of verbal mudslinging to take place between the various parties as they struggle to find a lasting solution to the thorny public sector pensions issue.
Last week, Hammond accused prime minister Tony Blair of putting his own political survival ahead of the interests of the British people by placing deputy John Prescott in charge of the pensions crisis.
Labour has reached a new low when the only person Tony Blair can rely on to solve the pension crisis is John Prescott - the same man that the prime minister considered incompetent enough to strip him of his own department, said Hammond.
Unions welcomed a government decision in November last year in which the government backed-down from a proposal which could have seen public sector workers under current defined benefit pension schemes forced to continue working until age 65.
In an agreement forged between the government and public sector unions, public sector workers in health, education and the civil service will continue to receive the defined benefits stipulated in their contracts. However, like the state pension and pensions in the private sector, the normal pension age for new entrants will now be 65.
At the time, TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, said: “The government has accepted that today’s public sector staff should not have their pensions promise broken, and need suffer no detriment in their pensions arrangements. This has met the major union objective.”
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