The BBC is reporting that “hundreds of thousands” of workers in the United Kingdom’s public sector are on strike today in protest of cuts to their pensions, causing major work stoppage. Over 40 percent of state schools in England and Wales have been effected. Striking unions have claimed that proposed changes would force employees to do more work and contribute more of their income toward a reduced pension. Employees on strike include members of three teachers unions and the Public and Commercial Services Union, which has 260,000 members.
The strike has effected embassies, transportation, museums, courts and many other agencies that have public employees. Approximately one in five civil servants are on strike and are being allowed to bring their children to work during this time. Union leaders say that some 750,000 workers will be striking.
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS, told the BBC that union members were left with no choice as the government refuses to budge on pension cuts. “While they are talking, they are not negotiating,” he said in a radio interview
In a statement, Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said: “What today has shown is that the vast majority of hard working public sector employees do not support today’s premature strike…Reform of public sector pensions is inevitable, but we will ensure that public sector pensions will still be among the very best, with a guaranteed pension which very few private sector staff now enjoy. But they will be paid later because people live longer.”