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Dublin: 4 °C Sunday 29 March, 2020

Public sector strikes hit Britain

Public sector workers are on strike over reforms to their pension arrangements.

Preparations ahead of the 24-hour strike today
Preparations ahead of the 24-hour strike today
Image: Yui Mok/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE UK IS being hit by one of the worst strikes in recent memory as services including schools, job centres and courts are hit.

Hundreds of thousands of public sector workers are protesting over pension reforms.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) and three teaching unions are carrying out a 24-hour strike. As well as pickets across the country, union leaders and activists will hold a march and rally in central London where all police leave has been cancelled, BBC News reports.

At issue is the government’s proposed reforms to public sector pensions which it argues are “fair to taxpayers” and the public sector.

However, the public sector representatives say the reforms will mean working longer and contributing more of their salary for less of a pension when members retire.

Talks between the two parties are ongoing but the strike has been called following a vote by members of the PCS.

Government minister Francis Maude and the general secretary of the PCS, Mark Serwotka outlined their conflicting arguments on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme this morning.

The Guardian reports that a third of schools are expected to close and two-thirds of universities have cancelled lectures.

Social welfare benefits will go unpaid, court cases will be postponed and airports are bracing themselves for backlogs at immigration. Travellers to the UK have been warned to expect delays with the strikes by border agency staff meaning ports and airports will be stretched.

Coastguards, police support workers, and driving test examiners will also be among some of the 250,000 members of the PCS who will walkout.

The government says that one in five public sector workers in the UK, of which there are around half a million, will be on strike but says the majority of services will remain open.

The strike does not have much support politically with the government as well as the opposition Labour party condemning the action although Labour commented that the government has mishandled negotiations with unions, BBC News adds.

You can follow coverage of the strikes on BBC News, The Guardian, and The Telegraph.

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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