MPs hit back at Osborne claims

Date published: 30 November 2011

George Osborne has urged unions to resume negotiations as he warned today's strike over pensions will not achieve or change anything.

He said: “The strike is not going to achieve anything, it's not going to change anything.

“It is only going to make our economy weaker and potentially cost jobs. So let's get back round the negotiating table, let's get a pension deal that is fair to the public sector, that gives decent pensions for many, many decades to come but which this county can also afford and our taxpayers can afford.

“That is what we should be doing today, not seeing these strikes.”

Mr Osborne also risked angering thousands of striking Oldham workers by announcing he wants to scrap national public-sector salaries and link them to local wages — meaning many in the North may be hit.

In a further blow, the Chancellor said public-sector workers would only be handed a 1 per cent rise in April, 2012, after their two-year pay freeze ends. He told MPs while he accepted it was tough, it was fair for those who work to pay taxes that fund it. Latest figures show there are 18,600 public sector workers in Oldham — 24 per cent of its workforce.

Oldham West and Royton MP Michael Meacher, who was due to speak with workers in Oldham today, added: “On the eve of a massive national strike the Government announces something extremely provocative. They are seriously considering ending the public-sector pay bargaining and it is staggering.”

Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams said: “The Chancellor’s plans will once again hit out at public-sector workers. Not satisfied with putting a three per cent unnegotiated tax on them he says he wants to scrap national public-sector salaries. This is outrageous and will result in a deeply unequal society.

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