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#J10: Massive nationwide strike strangles UK public services

Published time: July 10, 2014 15:05

People hold banners and placards as they take part in a march and rally in central London on July 10, 2014, as more than one million public sector workers went on strike in Britain over pay and spending cuts by the government imposed as part of its austerity programme, trade unions said (AFP Photo / Carl Court)

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Up to 2 million public sector workers participated in strike action on Thursday in a massive coordinated action against ‘poverty pay’, attacks on pensions, heavy workloads and workplace safety.

Read our live updates from throughout the day.

Picket lines were manned by trade unionist and supporters nationwide outside courts, council offices, job centers and fire stations, as well as outside the Houses of Parliament.

Thousands of people took part in marches and rallies in London and other UK cities. Meanwhile, hundreds of schools in England and Wales were forced to close or partially shut, as did many museums and libraries.

The action is the latest in opposition to a four-year public sector pay freeze, an austerity measure enforced at a time when the cost of living has risen substantially. The TUC estimates that public sector workers have been £2,500 worse off a year since 2010.

People hold banners and placards as they take part in a march and rally in central London on July 10, 2014, as more than one million public sector workers went on strike in Britain over pay and spending cuts by the government imposed as part of its austerity programme, trade unions said (AFP Photo / Carl Court)

The government condemned the ‘disruptive’ strikes, with the Department for Education arguing there was no justification for the action while talks with ministers were still ongoing.

Grant Shapps, the Conservative Party Chairman, said: “Today's strikes are disrupting the lives of millions. Schools have been shut, damaging children's education and forcing parents to take time off work or scramble round for childcare. Libraries and other public services have closed, causing difficulties to families across the country.”

Commenting on the day of action across England and Wales, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, attacked the government’s response to the strike.

“Extraordinarily the government’s response to today’s action has been to completely ignore the issues and instead seek to reduce people’s right to strike,” she said.

“There is no point pontificating on the fact that citizens have the right to strike if every time they do so they are vilified. It is a clear indication that this government does not want to listen to our concerns, nor do they want them drawn to the general public’s attention.”

Blower went on to blame the government’s failure to “engage in any meaningful discussions” about the escalating dispute.

“It is high time that we saw some significant movement,” Blower said. “Teachers love their jobs but unless their concerns on pay, pensions and workload are addressed teacher recruitment will certainly become an issue.”

Labour, the UK’s main opposition party, which draws the majority of its funding from the trade union movement, refused to condone or condemn the strikes, with leader Ed Miliband calling the strikes “a sign of failure on both sides.”

His remarks alienated many of the party’s natural support base, while allowing the Conservative government to accuse Labour of weakness.

“I understand the anger of workers who feel they are being singled out by a reckless and provocative government,” Miliband told journalists. “But I believe this action is wrong. Negotiations are ongoing.”

“The government’s handling of the issue has been high-handed and arrogant.”

“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. Put aside the rhetoric and avoid any further disruption to parents and the public.”

A survey of over 1,000 adults conducted on the eve of the strike for the Unite union found 70 percent of the public backed the right to strike. It also found 59 percent thought the government is unfairly targeting public sector workers on pay.

Even among 2010 Conservative voters, support for a pay rise stood at 52 percent, while more than two-thirds overall disagreed the government’s below inflation pay cap should remain in place until 2018.

Comments (21)

 

Norge 12.07.2014 11:24

[quote name='DUANE GREAVES' time='10.07.2014 22:02']Is there any genuine accounts on here. Morgon doesn't have a clue what he is talking about and knows nothing about British polititcs, Loz powell well your name says it all. Derek Maher doesn't know what he wants. The truth of the matter is cuts are need to get the UK out of debt the Labour government put us in. No one likes a pay cut and that's what it is because we had an overspent welfare system. Isn't it funny how when they cut welfare employment rises.

One of the few sensible comments on here

 

Loz Powell 11.07.2014 14:39

Kradmelder 10.07.2014 20:10
i sense you are a proper racist! , consider the fact the 95% of the food you eat comes from brown pepol the cars you drive and the tele,s you watch come from yellow pepol! without them you would die! ... if you dont like it go and eat your neighbor!

 

Loz Powell 11.07.2014 14:30

Kradmelder 10.07.2014 20:10
These days the brown people are invading you

i am a british ,i have spent most my life elsewhere! i returned to england for 6 years and failed a habitual residency test wich ment i had no rights to any wellfare healthcare ect, so i am on the short end of the stick , but pepol are pepol i dont care where they come from for a start! its not the random chance of where i was born that decides if i live or die and my own country was hapy to let me starve! secondly its a fact england has no agriculture industry or natural resorces or brains they simply cant live by themselves not enough room!

View all comments (21)
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