More than 2 million public sector workers in the UK have walked off the job over pension reforms, sparking major travel delays. The coordinated industrial action is the country’s largest one-day strike in 30 years.
Nine out of 10 state schools are closed, trash will not be collected, hospitals are operating with only skeleton staff and airports are looking at long delays, as Britain’s public sector workers begin their 24-hour nationwide strike over controversial pension reforms. The coordinated industrial action by a coalition of 30 trade unions, representing some 2 million workers, comes amid a gloomy backdrop of faltering growth in Britain, rising unemployment, big public sector layoffs and wage freezes, as the government pursues an austerity drive designed to slash a record budget deficit.
The strike will be the biggest test of Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition government, which has unleashed trade union fury by proposing to bring the retirement age for public sector employees in line with the state pension. Unions have warned of more strikes next year, if the government fails to make a new significant offer by the end of 2011. But the government says no more money is available and has threatened to withdraw a revised offer it made earlier this month, if workers strike.