The government tabled a bill Thursday that sets out a timeline for cities and their unions to reach a deal on their pension plans that unions are calling a “declaration of war.”

They say the bill attacks their pensions, and they're planning pressure tactics so the public will feel their anger.

Under the legislation, the cities and their unions will have up to 18 months to reach a deal.

If they fail there would be six months of arbitration. Cities and unions will share the cost of their plans half-half and a rainy day fund will be set up to help when investments dip.

The unions say the bill takes away their ability to really negotiate

“We didn't choose confrontation the government chose that option,” said Marc Ranger of the Municipal Unions Common Front.

The Liberal Government insists the bill will let the parties talk.

“The idea of the whole bill is to make sure that they will renegotiate their pension plan so that it will be sustainable,” said Municipal Affairs Minister Pierre Moreau.

City workers have generous but often insolvent pension plans, unlike the average taxpayer.

It's the average taxpayer the liberals want to please.

The lion's share of the problem is in Montreal, where the total deficit is $1.6 billion.

The bill means retirees whose pensions are indexed will have to pay for past deficits.

Yves Francoeur of Montreal Police Brotherhood says its pension plan is more than solvent.

He says the bill will mean police officers' dues for their pensions will more than double to $224 a week

“I can tell you something -- there will be no police officer who will want to come to work in Montreal,” he said.

The bill is expected to be voted on this fall. In the meantime, the unions say there could be protests, a legal challenge and they might even boycott the negotiations planned in the bill.