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UK Unions Plot a Winter of Discontent as They Ballot More Than a Million Workers for Biggest General Strike Since 1926

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A 'winter of discontent' looks imminent as Unison, the country's biggest public sector workers' union, gave formal notice today that its 1.1 million members will be balloted for industrial action in the bitter row over pensions.

The Government face the threat of the biggest outbreak of industrial action since the 1926 General Strike after unions served notice of ballots over the row which will see workers pay an extra 3.2 per cent in pension contributions.

Unison's general secretary, Dave Prentis, said 9,000 separate employer groups would be involved in the action, describing the ballot as 'unprecedented' in scale.

He blamed the Government for the ballot decision, which could see workers in school, hospitals, police and voluntary sectors, join the move.

He said: 'A ballot unprecedented in scale will cover over a million workers in health, local government, schools, further education, police, the voluntary sector and the environment and private sector.

'It's a decision we don't take lightly and the stakes are high, higher than ever before, but now is the time to make our stand.

'It will be hard, we'll be vilified, attacked, set against each other, but we must stay strong and united.'

The union was joined by Unite and the Fire Brigades Union, who all gave notice of ballots in the worsening row over pensions and launched angry attacks against the Government.