10/05/2012

Public Sector Workers Begin 24-Hour Strike Action

A 24-hour UK-wide strike action is underway in a dispute between public sector workers and the government over changes to their pension scheme.

Hundreds of thousands of public sector workers have to taken to the streets in protest over changes that unions say will leave their members paying more and working longer for lower pensions.

But the government says current pension schemes are unfair - and unaffordable because people are living longer.

Among the public sector workers taking part in the 24-hour strike are civil servants, NHS workers - including paramedics - border force staff and lecturers.

Around 20,000 off-duty police officers are expected at a rally in London to protest against cuts, and union leaders say up to 400,000 workers will strike. Although the government says it is more likely to be half that number.

Gail Cartmail, from the Unite union, which represents NHS workers and others, said members had rejected the proposals in a vote "by a very large majority - 94%".

Speaking to BBC News she said: "What the proposals mean is they will have to pay more, work longer and get less and they have said, by this very large majority, enough is enough."

But Conservative Party chairman Lady Warsi also told the BBC that workers were being asked to "to work a little bit longer and to pay a bit more but they will be guaranteed a pension which is index-linked and inflation proof".

(H)


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