Strikes: How was the UK affected?

Thousands of public sector workers took industrial action on Wednesday in protest at planned changes to their pensions.

The strike caused schools to close and the cancellation or postponement of many non-emergency hospital appointments. Some airport staff were on strike, but disruption to travel was minimal.

Photo: Demonstrators with signs and banners

Strike in numbers

  • Council workers on strike (England, Scotland and Wales) 850,500
  • Unions backing strike 29


  • Appointments cancelled 54,000
  • Operations cancelled 7,000 (approx)

Schools closed

  • UK total 18,342 68%
  • England 13,349 62%
  • Scotland 2,667 99%
  • Wales 1,526 86%
  • Northern Ireland 800 66%

Source: Dept for Education, TUC, NHS figures, LGA, Cosla

Service What has happened? Who was involved?

Schools and colleges

Thousands of schools across the UK closed, or partially closed, for the day. Some 62% of the 21,476 schools in England closed, with a further 14% partially shut, the Department for Education has said. In Scotland around 98% of schools shut, according to local authority body, Cosla. Some 86% of schools in Wales were closed. More than 50% of Northern Ireland schools closed, based on reports from three out of five education library boards.

NUT, NAHT (head teachers), NASUWT, AHDS (head teachers, Scotland) Aspect, EIS (Scotland), INTO (Northern Ireland) UCAC (Wales) and the ATL. Unison members providing school support services such as catering.

Hospitals and health

Healthcare workers including nurses, paramedics, radiographers, occupational therapists, podiatrists, healthcare assistants and health visitors, and a range of support staff from cleaners to administrators.

The strike hit non-urgent NHS care. Just under 7,000 of around 30,000 routine operations were cancelled or postponed across the UK. Tens of thousands of routine appointments were cancelled or postponed. The NHS aimed to ensure patients needing critical treatment such as dialysis were seen. Ambulance staff were on strike but still answered 999 calls. The London Ambulance Service said it was under severe pressure.

Unison, Unite, GMB, AEP (educational psychologists), Society of Chiropodist and Podiatrists, Charted Society of Physiotherapy, Society of Radiographers, BAOT (occupational therapists) POA

Local councils and services

Around 32% of council employees in England and Wales were not in work, equating to around 670,000 staff, according to the Local Government Association. Council offices, libraries, community centres, museums, leisure centres, car parks closed or partially closed. Around 15% of driving tests in England were cancelled. Refuse and recycling collections affected.

Unison, Unite, GMB, Nipsa (NI), Siptu (NI) PCS, ISU

Airports and border control

Heathrow and Gatwick were largely unaffected. Some immigration desks manned by Home Office staff and trained police - though an ISU official told the BBC that half of those trained to work did not have the right level of security clearance. Minimal disruption reported at other UK airports, many airlines offering free flight changes to reduce passenger numbers.

Staff from services company Serco were on standby to man border control points.


Transport workers from the TSSA and some RMT staff.

Tyne and Wear Metro closed.

Glasgow underground system closed.

Mersey tunnels closed,

Orkney and Shetland inter-island ferry services cancelled.

Bus and rail services in Northern Ireland affected.

RMT (only some members) TSSA (NI only)

Civil Service

Senior managers, professionals and engineers in public and private sector (including energy supply), probation officers, weather forecasters.

Less than one third of civil servants went on strike, the Cabinet Office said. The FDA union includes tax inspectors, special advisers, government lawyers, crown prosecutors and diplomats.

Some court proceedings delayed or disrupted.

Weather forecasters from the Met Office backed the strike, though emergency cover for aviation, shipping and defence was put in place.

FDA, Napo, Prospect


Construction workers

Members of the building workers union Ucatt went on strike. Ucatt staff typically work as maintenance staff for local authorities, the NHS and the civil service


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