With planned pension cuts to aid in the government deficit, thousands of public sector workers have skipped work and gone on strike, disrupting life in the U.K. Government reports put the number of workers below 100,000, meaning only 25% of unionized public sector workers joined the strike, but the unions dispute that report.
Among the primary disrupted entities are schools. With walk outs of teachers, 40% of all state schools in Wales and England have been interrupted. In total 5,679 schools were shut down with over 4,000 additional schools partially closed. Joining with teachers also came workers from other sectors.
Among the affected agencies were: 90% of the police staff that handles reported calls did not show up, slowing the emergency responder’s response time drastically. All national museums in Wales were shut down. Passport agencies were without staff. Airports were short staffed leading to large flight delays.
With the protests leading to several arrests and slowed economic sectors and low turn out, Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said, “What today has shown is that the vast majority of hard working public sector employees do not support today’s premature strike…Reform of public sector pensions is inevitable, but we will ensure that public sector pensions will still be among the very best, with a guaranteed pension which very few private sector staff now enjoy. But they will be paid later because people live longer.”
Despite the premature strikes leading to disruptions, negotiations continue to work out a package to aid the taxpayer and support the pension system that awards public sector workers with benefits private sector workers rarely obtain