Two million public sector workers strike

Strike plackards

A strike over pensions will see up to two million public sector workers hit the streets today.

Schools, airports, hospitals, ports and government offices will be disrupted as more than 1,000 walk-outs are planned across the UK.

Public sector workers are taking part in demonstrations to show their discontent with government plans to reduce their pensions, increase their contributions, raise the age at which they can retire and decide pension pots based on a career average (rather than the previous final salary schemes).

These measures were introduced to try to reduce the UK's debt as the government says the cost of public sector pensions is unsustainable.

The strike will last for 24 hours and is expected to disrupt Job Centres, courts, local councils, driving tests and refuse collections and three out of four schools in England will be affected by teachers striking.

Airport delays are predicted for people coming in and out of the country as employees from the UK Border Agency take part in walk-outs.

Hospital services will also be disrupted and some major operations have been rescheduled but calls to 999 will still be answered.


This morning, Chancellor George Osborne said: "The strike is not going to achieve anything, it's not going to change anything. It is only going to make our economy weaker and potentially cost jobs.

"Let's get back round the negotiating table, let's get a pension deal that is fair to the public sector, that gives decent pensions for many, many decades to come but which this county can also afford and our taxpayers can afford."

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Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, said the government has scrapped the bankers' bonus tax and replaced it with a teachers', nurses' and lollipop ladies' tax.

"Let's be clear. Of course, people never take industrial action lightly. Nobody wants to forsake a day's pay when the cost of living is high, and nobody wants to inconvenience the public and other working families. But when unfairness is piled on injustice you are right to take a stand and I am proud to stand with every single one of you."

Dave Prentis, general secretary of UNISON, echoed this sentiment in a statement last night: "This is an historic week for our union. The time has come to make your stand and join the fight for a fair pensions deal. I am so proud of all our members – including the nurses, social workers, PCSOs, librarians, dinner ladies, teaching assistants, bin men and paramedics who will be standing shoulder to shoulder on picket lines tomorrow.

"We know we have the public on our side. They know that public service workers are not asking for more – they just want the pension deal they were promised."

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