Union leaders predict 400,000 workers will strike

 

The Government will face a storm of protest over public sector
pensions, pay and jobs tomorrow when tens of thousands of workers,
ranging from police officers to immigration staff, will strike and take
other forms of action.

Union leaders predict that up to 400,000 workers will be involved in a wave of demonstrations, fuelled by ministers making it clear in today's Queen's Speech that they are pressing ahead with their controversial reforms.

Civil servants, lecturers, health workers, Ministry of Defence staff, immigration officers, off-duty police officers and members of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary will be among those joining strikes and other forms of protest across the UK.

The walkout follows last November's huge stoppage by over one-and-a-half million workers in protest at the planned changes to their pensions.

Most public sector unions remain opposed to the reforms which they warned would leave millions of workers having to pay more into their pensions, retire later and receive less when they stop work.

Up to 16,000 off-duty officers will don black caps representing each officer expected to be lost under the Government's budget cuts as they take to the streets.

The officers, banned from striking under law, will march through central London in a protest against proposed changes to their pay and conditions.

Some 20,000 officers from all 43 forces across England and Wales are expected to take part in the first police march in the capital for more than four years, organisers said.

The Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said the sea of black caps will show the number of officers the public will lose over four years as a result of the cuts.

Unite's assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmail, said: "Tomorrow's industrial action will build on the high level of anger that was on display during the November 30 strikes.

"This anger has been increased by the Government's hardline insistence that public sector employees work longer, pay more and receive less when they eventually retire.

"Our members believe that the Government is attacking their pensions as a means of helping reduce the budget deficit, which has been caused by a greedy City elite, that has brought the economy to its knees. This is blatantly unfair.

"George Osborne's austerity plans are beginning to sicken everyone. A work-until-you-drop culture in this country is not because people want teachers, nurses, firemen struggling at work into their 70s."

The pensions dispute has been raging for over 18 months, with warnings of further strikes in June and throughout the summer.

Ministers insist the current level of public sector pensions is unsustainable and that reforms are needed, saying workers will still receive decent payments on retirement.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, said: "The coalition has reduced tax for super-earners while making cuts to vital public services like jobcentres, borders and tax collection.

"Public sector workers have seen thousands of their colleagues sacked, their pay has been frozen for two years and they are being told they must pay much more and work for up to eight years longer for smaller pensions.

"That's why hundreds of thousands of workers will be striking on Thursday in opposition to the Government's prescription of austerity and misery that has plunged the UK back into recession."

Jobcentres, airports, tax offices, colleges, driving test centres, museums and military sites will all be hit by this week's strike.

Picket lines will be mounted outside Government buildings, Parliament, museums and galleries, while rallies will be held across the country including in London, Birmingham, Glasgow and Liverpool.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, said: "It is very disappointing that a minority of union insist on carrying on with a futile and disruptive strike action which will benefit no one. We would urge union leaders to reconsider their position. Pension talks will not be reopened and members are risking losing a day's pay for nothing.

"In March we set out our final proposed agreement on pension reform following more than a year of intensive discussions with trades unions. Our reforms ensure that public sector pensions will remain among the very best available and that they can be sustained for the future."

Immigration Minister Damian Green said: "This strike is completely unnecessary and we believe the public will find it unacceptable if unions push ahead.

"The security of the UK border is of the utmost importance and we will use contingency plans to ensure we minimise any disruption caused by planned union action. We are preparing to use our trained pool of backroom staff and MoD police to boost staffing levels at ports and airports around the UK."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need