Pensions: A strike-busting offer?

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Media captionDanny Alexander said he hoped the offer would lead to ''agreement'' and not to ''damaging'' strike action

Work longer, pay more, get less - who would vote for that, asked the unions?

So today the government unveiled what they described as a "generous" new offer to those on public sector pensions which they are selling as ...

Work longer, pay more, get more - unless you're within 10 years of your pension age in which case, they claim, you'll see no change to your pension.

Under the revised offer, the government says that a teacher with a final salary of £37,800 would receive a pension of £25,200 each year, up from the £19,100 they would earn under their current scheme, whilst a nurse, with a final salary of £34,200, would get an annual pension of £22,800 rather than the £17,300 they would have been entitled to under the old scheme.

The unions are pointing out that, despite that, public sector pension increases are now being linked to CPI rather than the higher RPI measure of inflation, contributions are going up to help pay off the deficit rather than to deal with shortfalls in pension schemes and the pensionable age is increasing.

Nevertheless I sensed that they sense a deal might be possible.

They say the planned strikes on 30 November will go ahead - they have to maintain any bargaining clout - but negotiators have started talking about the details of accrual rates and cost ceilings which is exactly what ministers hoped.

Their aim has been to come up with a good enough offer to break the solidarity between different unions and different workers so that they can get into detailed talks with different groups.

The question that ministers wouldn't answer today is how much these concessions would cost.

That's led the Institute of Directors (IoD) - most of whose members represent small and medium sized firms - to condemn the government for watering down reforms in the face of a general strike and declaring that: "It is not reasonable that private sector employees who will never enjoy defined benefit pensions should continue to subsidise public sector workers insulated from economic reality."

If it's bad enough to upset the IoD is this offer good enough to impress the TUC? That's the test.