UK – The main civil servants union has threatened industrial action over government plans to raise the retirement age for public sector workers.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the 288,000-strong Public and Commercial Services Union, told the union’s annual conference that it would consider action against the proposals.

“We will not leave any stone unturned in our negotiations, we will campaign the length and breadth of the union and the country and yes conference we need to seriously consider the possibility of industrial action in our campaign against the increased pension age,” he told delegates.

The government has proposed raising the retirement age for new public sector workers from 60 to 65 from 2006.

The union said conference delegates called for “a vigorous campaign against the increased pension age for public sector workers”.

Serwotka said the union welcomes government’s proposals for a pensions protection fund and insurance scheme to protect members on scheme windup.

"But the proposals do not address the underlying difficulty with pensions for our members, especially in the private sector,” Serwotka said. “Many members belong to money purchase schemes, which offer no guarantees on the level pension benefits at retirement.”

“The government's decision to cut the protection against inflation that applies to final salary schemes could further damage the pension expectations of members.

"We will seek to work closely with other public sector unions, as well as pensioners group and other campaigning organisations. It is time to stand up and say that our pensions system needs a total rethink and time to say that public servants deserve better."