Ed Miliband condemns strikers

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Indy Politics

Labour leader Ed Miliband today condemned public sector workers for walking out while negotiations on reform of their pensions were still ongoing.

He said that while he understood the anger of the teachers and civil servants involved, their one-day strike was "wrong" and would not help them win their argument with the Government.

There was strong criticism of the Labour leader at a union rally in London where one speaker branded his stance a "disgrace" to loud cheers from the audience.

But addressing the Local Government Association conference in Birmingham, Mr Miliband said that under his leadership Labour would be "the party of mums and dads who know the value of a day's education".

"I understand the anger of workers who feel they are being singled out by a reckless and provocative Government. But I believe this action is wrong," he said.

"Negotiations are ongoing. So it is a mistake to go on strike because of the effect on the people who rely upon these services. And it is mistake because it will not help to win the argument.

"The Labour Party I lead will always be the party of the mums and dads who know the value of a day's education."

Mr Miliband also condemned the Government's handling of the issue, accusing ministers of announcing their final position while negotiations were still taking place.

"This disruption could have been avoided if ministers had been willing to engage with the concerns of those affected by changes to public sector pensions. The Government's handling of the issue has been high-handed and arrogant," he said.

He called on both sides to return to the negotiating table and resolve the dispute without further disruption to the public.

"My message to both sides is this: what the British people want and expect is that you now get back to the negotiating table and redouble your efforts to find an agreed solution," he said.

"Put aside the rhetoric, and avoid any further disruption to parents and the public."