The main civil servants' union, the Public and Commercial Services union, which took joint strike action on 30 June, has described Labour leader Ed Miliband's refusal to support public sector workers taking action over cuts in their pensions as "a slap in the face".
Janice Godrich, national president of the union which is not affiliated to Labour, quizzed Mr Miliband from the floor after his speech to the TUC's annual congress.
Asking him what he would do to defend the pensions deal his party made with the unions in 2006 when they were in government, and if he would support public sector workers taking industrial action in the autumn to defend the deal, she offered Mr MIliband the "opportunity to stand up for hundreds of thousands of public sector workers whose livelihoods are under attack".
To huge cheers she said his former cabinet colleague Alan Johnson had described the deal as "fair and reasonable" and the National Audit Office had recently said the changes meant public sector pensions were affordable and sustainable.
Mr Miliband refused to offer his support to those trade unionists forced to take industrial action against being made to pay more pension contributions to pay for the deficit caused by the banks, and to work longer for less pension. Answering PCS's question he said the "best thing that can be done is avoid industrial action by the government being prepared to negotiate", ignoring the fact that the government is refusing to negotiate on the key issues.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Not only is Mr Miliband turning his back on our members, he's turning his back on the union members who voted for him as leader in their thousands, and on the millions of people who rely on the public services they provide.
"His refusal to back his natural supporters is a slap in the face and will be massively counterproductive for him, but it will not dent our determination to fight to protect pensions, jobs, pay and public services."
- For information and interview requests contact PCS national press officer Richard Simcox on 020 7801 2747 or 07833 978216
- The Public and Commercial Services union represents civil and public servants in central government. It has around 300,000 members in over 200 departments and agencies, and in parts of government transferred to the private sector. PCS is the UK's sixth largest union and is affiliated to the TUC. The general secretary is Mark Serwotka and the president is Janice Godrich - on Twitter @janicegodrich
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