Britain plans to lift public sector retirement age to 66

17th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

The British government said on Friday it wanted to bring the retirement age for public sector workers into line with the state pension, meaning most employees will have to work to the age of 66.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander was also to warn workers that it would be a "colossal mistake" to spurn the government's pensions deal and sacrifice the best offer they will be made "for years to come".

The issue is one of the main factors behind a planned strike by teachers and civil servants on June 30, which is expected to start a wave of industrial action.

Alexander said many of the recommendations on pension reform made in a government-commissioned report in March would be adopted.

In a speech later on Friday, he is expected to say most public sector workers -- with the exception of the army, police and fire service -- will see their retirement age linked to the state pension age in the future.

Most public sector workers are currently allowed to retire at 60.

Public sector workers are also facing changes to their pension payments which will see many paying more in contributions -- on average 3.2 percent -- and working longer.

The government insists the changes are necessary because of cuts in public spending and rising life expectancy and points out that most private sector workers do not receive such generous pensions.

Alexander rejected suggestions he was pre-empting talks with unions by setting out the government's position in public before the conclusion of "positive" negotiations with unions that are planned to continue into July.

"I'm not saying in public anything I haven't been saying privately," he told BBC radio.

"These talks are incredibly important and I think there is progress to be made."

He added: "The point of the negotiations is to sit down and discuss with trade unions in a reasonable fashion how we take these things forward.

"That is why it is so disappointing that some unions have decided to go out on strike.

"We have got to recognise increased longevity and that the costs of these things have to be shared."

© 2011 AFP

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