Scotland

Scottish government urges against pension strikes

The Scottish government has said there was no case for strike action over public sector pensions, while talks over the issue were still taking place.

Hundreds of thousands of UK civil servants will take action on 30 June, but Scots Finance Secretary John Swinney said it would damage services.

Mr Swinney disagreed with Treasury plans which would mean workers paying 3.2% extra on average.

But the UK government said reforms would protect pensions, long-term.

Under reforms announced by the chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, contributions will rise and some people will have to work for longer.

He said the low paid would be protected, but unions - who are currently negotiating over the changes - have branded the move an "assault" on public sector pensions.

Tensions between the two sides have risen in recent days, after unions representing up to 750,000 public sector workers, voted to strike on 30 June.

In a statement to Holyrood, Mr Swinney said Scottish ministers would need to find £400m a year if they did not follow the UK government's proposals.

He also said the industrial action had been proposed by some, but not all, of the unions involved in the dispute.

Mr Swinney added: "The Scottish government does not believe there is a case for industrial action to be taken while negotiations on this issue are still on-going.

"Such action will only damage the delivery of public services upon which our citizens depend.

"I would urge those thinking about taking industrial action to encourage participation in dialogue with the UK government in an attempt to reach a positive resolution to this important issue."

Under UK government plans, workers - on average - would have to pay 3.2% more in annual pension contributions phased in between 2012 and 2014.

But low-paid public sector workers on less than £15,000 would not face any increase in contributions and those earning less than £18,000 would have their contributions capped at 1.5%.

And Mr Alexander has insisted all pension benefits earned before any reforms are introduced - including retirement ages and final salary benefits - would be protected.

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