As it happened: National strike

Key points

  • Public sector workers went on strike over pension reforms in what unions called the biggest walkout for a generation.
  • About 67% of UK state schools shut, with thousands more partially closed, while the NHS cancelled 7,000 operations, the government said.
  • PM David Cameron described strike as "something like a damp squib", but Labour leader Ed Miliband accused him of "spoiling for this fight".

Join the discussion


    Hello and welcome to our public sector workers strike live page. Up to two million public sector workers are staging a strike over pensions in what is set to be the biggest walkout for a generation today. We'll bring you all the news and analysis from the day as it unfolds.


    Schools, hospitals, airports, ports and government offices will be among sites disrupted, as more than 1,000 demonstrations are due across the UK.


    We're expecting as many as 90% of England's schools to be forced to close by striking teachers and support staff.


    Craig Johnson, regional organiser for the RMT union in the north east of England, says that part of the settlement that you make when you are a public sector worker is that you get a reasonable pension - "not something that is excessive, but something that will look after you into retirement and into old age".


    Mr Johnson adds: "What the government is doing is storing up trouble for the future because in reality we are heading for pensioner poverty if we don't try to protect public sector pensions and also do something about private sector pensions as well."


    The UK Border Agency is set to be hit by the walkout of Public and Commercial Services union members, and passengers have been warned to expect delays at border control. Queues are expected at airports including Heathrow and Gatwick, no ferries will run to or from Shetland, and the Metro in Newcastle will be closed.


    Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude has branded the action "indefensible and wrong".


    Worried about how you might be affected? Read our guide and find out your rights.


    Yesterday union leaders reacted angrily to Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement announcements of a public sector pay cap of 1% for two years, as well as bringing forward to 2026 the rise in the state pension age to 67.


    The Department for Education (DfE) says it believes that more than half of England's 21,700 state schools (58%) are closed, with a further 13% partially shut. Around 13% are open, the DfE says, while the rest are unknown. Schools in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are also expected to be affected.

    0647: Jon Hunt, BBC News

    One of the first passengers to pass through Gatwick airport today tells the BBC that passport control took six minutes to clear. Passengers Andrew Mcallister and Helen Heasman arriving at Gatwick say there were no queues at the border at 0600 GMT.

    0649: Richard Lister, BBC News

    Airport sources at Heathrow airport suggest immigration controls are at two thirds of normal staffing levels - more than the 30-50% predicted previously .


    BBC Essex reports around a dozen staff on a picket line outside Essex police headquarters.

    Rose Dawn

    tweets: I'm withdrawing my labour today. Solidarity with all other strikers everywhere. Power to the wealth creators, power to the workers. #n30


    Ann Price, a community nurse in Bristol, tells the BBC she is backing staff who walked out at Bristol Royal Infirmary at midnight to "protect the meagre pensions that we do have in the public sector". She says nurses are "notoriously low paid" and have had a pay freeze for the last two years: "The gold plated pensions they say we have is not true, it is only relevant to what we earn and a lot of our workers earn very low wages."


    Health workers walked out of the Birmingham Women's Hospital at midnight.

    Health workers out on strike at midnight from the Birmingham Women's Hospital
    Simon, a teacher,

    tweets: "About to head off to work. I am not striking and I don't think anyone at the school where I work is" and "As an independent school we are not public sector workers but the proposed changes will also affect our pensions."


    In Bristol, staff at the city's royal infirmary walked out at midnight to form a picket line. Watch staff beginning their 24-hour walk out.


    The strike is thought to be the biggest in more than 30 years. Picket lines are expected to be mounted outside schools, hospitals, jobcentres, courts and other buildings, while more than 1,000 rallies and other demonstrations will be held across the UK. Read the full story here.


    Hospital managers are planning to postpone about 5000 non-emergency operations because of the strike. Patients needing urgent treatment such as chemotherapy and kidney dialysis will still be able to get it, and maternity units will remain open. Calls to 999 will still be answered, but patients are being urged to think carefully and call only if it is a genuine emergency.

    0709: James Vincent, BBC News

    A few more figures about schools - 79% are closed in south Yorkshire, and 88% affected by strike action.

    Claire, an NHS worker,

    tweets: I'm not striking to get a better deal, just for my employer to honour the contract I signed up to 10 years ago #n30

    0710: Emma Blackburn, BBC News

    Picket line gathering at Olive Grove Depot where the council's street force team is based in Sheffield. Strikers say they will " fight for their country, fight for their public sectors and they will not go away."


    We just heard about schools in south Yorkshire, now we're hearing that than 200 schools are completely closed in York and north Yorkshire. Many more are partially closed.


    Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, has been speaking to ITV's Daybreak. He says the public sector is "absolutely under attack" by the Government, adding that the day of action is completely justified. "There comes a time when people really have to stand up and make a stand. With the scale of change the Government are trying to force through, making people work much, much longer and get much, much less, that's the call people have made."


    Chancellor George Osborne says Britian has to make some "very difficult choices" but if we didn't make them things would be "very much worse". He tells the BBC: "Our country would be bankrupt".


    Mr Osborne says he's not picking a fight with the public sector, or anyone, but the debt needs to be paid off. He says the private sector needs to grow and create jobs, as ultimately that's where tax revenue comes from to pay for the public sector.


    Unison general secretary Dave Prentis tells BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that industrial action by his union was rare but public sector workers "were annoyed" about paying more towards their pensions while working longer. He said: "That is when people say enough is enough."


    Mr Osborne adds he is offering a "very generous" pension for public sector workers - and he'd urge people to settle it for the next generation. He adds that he is trying to protect the lowest paid people in the public sector and be "as fair as possible".


    And schools minister Nick Gibb tells the BBC: "We do understand people are concerned about pensions and we are determined to maintain defined benefit pensions. The negotiations are continuing. "We have to be fair to all tax payers not just those who work in the public sector. If we're going to sustain these kind of high quality pensions in the long run there does have to be reform."


    Mr Osborne says he is making sure the bankers also pay their share to help the economy, both in cash terms and as a proportion of their income. But he says the strike will achieve nothing. "It will make the economy weaker and potentially cost jobs", and he urges unions to "get back round the table". He adds: "That's what we should be doing today, not seeing these strikes."

    0732: Annette Bartholomew, BBC News

    Picket outside Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary hospital describes proposed public pension cuts as shameful.

    0732: Keith Gooden, BBC News

    West Midlands Ambulance service urges sparing use of 999 service.

    0732: Jonathan Sumberg, BBC News at Heathrow Airport

    All quiet and seems to be running normally at Heathrow Terminal 3 immigration, but the next hour is the busiest time as transatlantic flights arrive. The 10 EU UK desks at are being manned by mix of home office staff and police officers who have been trained. Five non-EU desks are open too.


    Striker Ian Colquhoun stands on a picket line outside the Western Infirmary in Glasgow. He is one of 300,000 public sector workers due to walk out across Scotland.

    Picket line
    Anthony Barker, from Leicestershire,

    writes: As a site manager at a primary school, I am supporting today's action. As one who is too near to retirement for any proposed changes to affect, we cannot let these changes happen to young people's pensions in the future.

    0746: Amber Henshaw, BBC News

    First people on picket line at Shirehall, head office of Shropshire council. The council says it thinks 40 or 50 % of workers won't be turning up today.

    0747: Tony Smith, BBC News

    Terminal 4 Heathrow, the place is empty. No queues. Staff here say it's working better than normal. But there are lines laid out expecting queues and signs up warning of delays.

    Michael, from Scotland,

    tweets: "Heading to work to cross the #picket. Proud to be working hard for the people of #Edinburgh today. #Scab #Nov30"

    0747: James Vincent, BBC News

    Friendly exchange at Sheffield town hall as the chief executive turns up for work. Strikers asking him about his salary and pension.


    Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, says: "The government constantly says get back round the table - that's all the NASUWT has wanted to do, but ministers haven't called a meeting since 2 November."

    0752: Emma Vardy, BBC News, Oxford

    Ian McKendrick, a staff nurse on the picket line outside Warneford hospital in Oxford, explains his reason for opposing the government's pension plans: "I'm looking at a future ending up on benefits because I work in acute admissions and I can't do that job at 66," he says.

    0754: Paul Rowley, BBC political correspondent

    Some Labour MPs are publicly backing today's strike by public service workers over cuts to their pensions, even though it's not party policy. Nine of them have signed a Commons motion supporting the action, and are calling on the Government to "engage in serious negotiations to resolve the dispute".

    Ray Mead, from Southampton,

    tweets: I can't afford contributory pensions for my staff but some can't come in due to childcare etc. Selfish strikes affect the whole economy #N30


    Shadow chancellor Ed Balls tells the BBC the pensions row should have been sorted out by the government: "They didn't and that's why we're in this situation" with strikes," he says.


    Mr Balls adds Mr Osborne's claims that the lowest paid are not affected is not true and it isn't fair: "The public sector pensions had to be reformed but not fair to hit the poorest hardest," he says.

    0800: Daragh Corcoran, from Leeds,

    tweets: Quite a number of younger members of staff passing the picket line here at Leeds Civic Hall #N30


    Shadow chancellor Ed Balls says that if Labour was in government he wouldn't have hit those earning under \u00a315,000. "Those on \u00a37,000 or \u00a38,000, those that are working part time, who have pensions of just \u00a33,000 or \u00a34,000 a year are already seeing a rise in contributions. It's not fair," he says.

    0804: Jerry Chester, BBC News

    Bryony Baynes, head teacher at Ashton-Under-Hill First School, near Evesham, Worcestershire, tells the BBC why she is striking: "I worry very much, as do a lot of other heads, as do our unions, that these changes will discourage young people from entering the profession and that actually we will lose out."

    0805: Trevor Gibbons, BBC News

    At Kettle Thorpe High School in Wakefield an NUT picket line turns a teacher around after discussion of issues.

    0805: Stuart Harratt, BBC News, in Hull

    Radio reporters passing over the Humber Bridge has told us the toll booths are not open, so it is currently free to cross.

    Sally Newland, from Dagenham

    writes: Why should public sector workers believe that any new pension deal will be maintained in the future? In 1972 I was told I could retire in 2016, now I will retire in 2022. Retrospective changes to pensions should be seen for what they are, taking money under false pretences.

    Bob, from Rotherham

    writes: The strikers are not living in the real world, there are 2.6 million unemployed people that would give anything to be in a steady, safe job with a pension at the end of it that is guaranteed. There are many more millions of us in the private sector that would give their right arm for a pension scheme like the one on offer.

    Gareth Lewis Shelton, from London,

    tweets: Don't quite support strikers cause, but I do support right to strike. Gave plenty of notice, does no harm, individual choice. #nov30


    Brendan Barber of the TUC tells the BBC that while the government has made some concessions on public sector pensions, in other ways they have made "no moves at all" - for example, on increased contributions. "This makes it extraordinarily difficult to reach a deal," he says.

    0819: Breaking News

    The Labour leader Ed Miliband says he has "huge sympathy" for people whose lives are going to be disrupted today but he says he is "not going to condemn the dinner ladies, nurses, teachers who have made the decision to go on strike because they feel they have been put in an impossible position by a government that has refused to negotiate properly".


    Mr Miliband adds: "So I'm afraid the government has got to accept responsibility - it is their failure that has led to the strikes today."


    Then BBC's Ross Hawkins says there are strike placards outside Royal Courts of Justice, where the Leveson media inquiry is being held. "We've been led to believe Leveson should be unaffected. Let's see," he says.


    Chancellor George Osborne tells the BBC the "government has not shied away from making decisions" and the increase in the pension age was one of them.


    Mr Osborne insists the pension offer is a "fair deal for the public sector and the taxpayer" and adds that they are "generous pensions that you can't get in the private sector".

    James, from Kent,

    tweets: You can't attack the strikers for damaging the economy without tacitly acknowledging the huge importance of the work they do.


    We mentioned earlier that shadow chancellor Ed Balls says it is ''ridiculous'' the dispute was not sorted out by the government. Watch the video of him on BBC Breakfast here.

    Jonathan Stoneman, from Devon,

    tweets: Through Heathrow as fast as ever, if not faster. No queues at 0800 in T1 at least. And Iris was working!

    0830: Clark Ainsworth, BBC News

    Chief operating officer Scott Stanley at Gatwick Airport says: "Whilst passengers have so far not experienced delays at the border zones we do expect delays to occur at some point today as the rate of arriving flights increases."

    Pete Jeffreys, a teacher from Reading,

    tweets: Disappointed that I'm joining industrial action today. Agree we should work longer, but paying more to get less is unfair #n30 #nov30

    0831: Emily Unia, BBC News

    Quick snapshot of the situation in Cumbria now. More than half the county's schools are definitely closed but 39 will stay open. Nineteen libraries are shut, 12 day care centres for disabled not opening.

    0836: Emma Vardy, BBC News

    Oxfordshire County Council confirms 209 schools are closed or partially closed today - three quarters of all schools in the county.

    0837: Megan Paterson, BBC News, Manchester

    Manchester Airport - disruption minimal at passport control this morning. Service running better than expected.


    Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude tells the BBC that going on strike puts other people's jobs at risk and is not going to make things any better.


    Kent and Medway councils say more than 300 schools in Kent and Medway are closed or partially closed today.

    Phil Mapletoft, from Sheffield

    I am currently fighting to get a job, any job, so I find it disgusting that others think it acceptable to hold the rest of our society to ransom to satisfy their own greed. Don't they realise that we are all living longer than in decades past, so pension ages must be extended upwards because of our greater longevity?

    0844: Annette Bartholomew, BBC News

    says there is heavy traffic - almost gridlock - into Gateshead from Redheugh Bridge in Newcastle. That's possibly because the Metro is closed as a result of strike action.

    0846: Annette Bartholomew, BBC News, in Shropshire

    says there are about 10 people on the picket line at royal Shrewsbury hospital. The hospitals trust says it's cancelled 53 planned surgeries across the county and 1500 outpatient appointments. Managers preparing to muck in and wheel patients around or answer phones.

    David Miller, from Horsham

    The public sector may be annoyed enough to strike, but most of them still have jobs & they'll all retire on a final salary pension. They are completely in denial and this strike just proves how out of touch with reality they are.

    Matthew Humphries, from Cardiff,

    writes: I'm not any kind of red militant, I've never been to a branch meeting in nearly 30 years of of membership; but when our pension scheme is simply torn up in front of our eyes and I'm told I have to work untill I'm 68 I don't see what else I can do except strike.

    Bob Walker, BBC News, Nottingham

    Driving instructor tells me that normally between 5 and 11 driving examiners are on duty at Chalfont Drive test centre in Nottingham. Today there's only 1. Instructor himself is former civil servant. He has some sympathy but says strikers still have good pensions. "I'm barely making a living right now," he says.

    0855: Breaking News Gillian Hargreaves, education correspondent

    estimates from official Department for Education data that around 2,700 schools in England out of 20,000 are open as usual this morning.


    BBC transport correspondent Richard Lister tells the BBC News Channel that Heathrow officials would be saying "so far so good". BAA had been predicting delays of two to three hours but reports from inside the terminals say that things are moving very, very smoothly indeed, our correspondent says.


    Here's a quick update of the situation at 0900 GMT. The biggest strike in a generation - which could see up to two million public sector workers walk out - is underway - but the government says it won't drop plans to cut their pensions.


    At least 90% of schools are expected to remain closed as teachers, headteachers and other staff take part in the strike. The Department for Education (DfE) said 58% of England's 21,700 state schools would definitely be shut on Wednesday with another 13% partially closed.Read more about the schools closed in pensions strike here.


    The picture looks better at airports, with warnings of long queues and delays so far failing to materialise at Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester airports.


    Thousands of hospital appointments and non-urgent operations have been cancelled as NHS workers join the actions. Calls to 999 will still be answered, but patients are being urged to think carefully and call only if it is a genuine emergency.


    There are expected to be more than 1,000 demonstrations across the UK today. Get the full story on those and the strike here, or for more information read our Q&A on the public sector strikes.


    A picket stands outside City Hall in central London.

    A picket stands outside City Hall in central London

    A quick look at the school situation on the south coast. Hampshire County Council says it has 322 schools either closed or partially closed - out of a total of 502. Southampton has six schools open, three partially closed and 72 closed - out of 81. And Portsmouth City Council has 35 schools shut, 17 partially closed and 14 open.

    0909: Alison Hodgkins-Brown, BBC News

    at Stansted airport says so far all flights are operating normally out of the airport this morning.


    Shadow chancellor Ed Balls is asked on the BBC News Channel whether he would go on strike if he was a public sector worker. "I would be pretty upset," he replies. Pressed on whether he personally would take strike action, Mr Balls says: "I am not going to criticise people who are striking today, people who think it is a last resort."


    Ed Balls adds: "It is hugely disruptive today to have these strikes, for families, for pensioners, for people using hospitals and for parents. These strikes should have been prevented. It required both sides (government and unions) to give some ground."


    Unite members strike outside the Liverpool entrance to the Birkenhead Tunnel, which has been closed for the day.

    Unite members strike outside the Liverpool entrance to the Birkenhead Tunnel which has been closed for the day.
    0920: Emma Kasprzak, BBC News

    An update from the West Midlands now. More than 500 schools are closed across Birmingham, Solihull, Walsall, Wolverhampton and Sandwell and Dudley. Birmingham's Central Library is closed.


    Scotland's Finance Secretary John Swinney tells BBC Radio Scotland that he does not support the strike action, but adds: "Our prospects of resolving it satisfactorily have been contaminated by the short-term cash grab of the Treasury to increase people's contribution to their pensions."

    0928: James Vincent, BBC News in Sheffield

    Unison and Unite angry about a text circulating from council offering extra payment for standby home care workers. City Council says payments are for those working already, and aren't designed to tempt people across picket line.

    Mara Balcombe. from London

    tweets: First time in my life I have crossed a picket line. I support my colleagues just haven't joined a union. #STRIKE


    The scene at Terminal 3 at Heathrow Airport, which so far has not seen delays.

    The scene at Terminal 3 at Heathrow Airport
    BBC News website reader Matt Conway

    comments on the BBC story: Isn't fair? Go talk to one of the billions of people living without a job, without a house, without a penny, without any prospects.... Oh right, your 3 extra years of paid working followed by (the new pension offer) what is still a very very very good pension!

    BBC News website reader

    comments on the BBC story: Just passed through the picket at the local hospital. All men picketing - yet at least 50% of those on strike are women. Any reason why women are not represented on the picket line?

    0937: Breaking News

    Cabinet minister Francis Maude denies union claims that the government is refusing to enter into negotiations. He says talks are "ongoing, intensive and making good progress". He adds: "There were formal discussions with the civil service unions only yesterday and there will be formal discussions with the teaching unions tomorrow and health on Friday. In addition, there are frequent informal contacts between the Government and the TUC."

    0938: Emma Vardy, BBC News

    Around 2,000 people expected to march through Oxford later. Thames Valley Police Assistant Chief Constable John Campbell, leading the policing operation, says: "The role of the police during this day of action is to help balance the rights of people to take industrial action and protest peacefully with the rights of the public and local businesses to go about their daily business."

    0939: Amber Henshaw, BBC News

    The governor at Shrewsbury prison in Shropshire has already sent out refreshments to strikers from three unions GMB, Unite and PCS. Officers are expected out at lunchtime to show support.


    Public sector workers from the PCS Union form a picket line outside the Port of Dover in Kent.

    Public sector workers from the PCS Union on a picket line outside the Port of Dover in Kent
    @unitetheunion, the official Twitter feed of Unite

    tweets: GS Len McCluskey been visiting picket lines this morning. So far reps at St Thomas' and then Guys Hospital. Great mood on pickets #n30


    A look at the situation in Northern Ireland now, where thousands of public sector workers are on strike. The civil service, health, education and transport are areas affected - with many council services having been cancelled and schools closed - but doctors and nurses are not taking industrial action. Trade union rallies and pickets have been organised across the region - with the main rally at lunchtime in Belfast. Get the full picture here.


    Liberal Democrat Party president Tim Farron tells the BBC News Channel the unions are wrong to strike because workers on low to middle incomes would get a "better, or certainly no worse" pension when they retire than is currently the case. "They (the strikes) are not justified but given they are happening today the the best thing we can do it respect the right for people to withdraw their labour and get back to negotiating tomorrow," he says.


    Schools, ferries, airports and benefit offices throughout Scotland are among the services hit as 300,000 public sector workers go on strike. Read about the situation in Scotland.


    In Wales, about 170,000 workers are on strike as part of the UK-wide industrial action, say unions, with public services disrupted and most schools closed. More than 90% of pupils across Wales are missing classes, while all non-urgent hospital operations have been rescheduled. Other services affected include waste collection and libraries. Get the full picture in Wales here.


    Billy Bowman, a bus driver for 30 years, protests outside the Short Strand bus depot, in Belfast, where 200 buses are off the road.

    Billy Bowman, a bus driver for thirty years, protests outside the Short Strand bus depot, in Belfast

    And in England more than one million public sector workers are on strike say unions - with 2,700 of 21,700 state schools in England open. Get more details on strike action across England here.

    0954: Tanya Gupta, BBC News, in Kent

    South East Coast Ambulance Trust paramedics providing emergency cover while supporting strike action.

    0954: Amber Henshaw, BBC News in Shropshire

    About 80% of schools closed in Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin. That's approximately 150 primary and secondary schools.

    0955: Annette Bartholomew, BBC News in Newcastle

    Police guarding Tyne bridge to prevent any protests. A rally due to cross swing bridge later this morning.


    Pickets stand outside St. Pancras Hospital in London.

    Pickets stand outside St. Pancras Hospital in London November 30, 2011
    Linda, from Scotland,

    texts: We have heard much this morning about about childcare. Not about children losing a day's education. Do parents see teachers as babysitters to allow them to work ?

    1000: Alison Hodgkins-Brown, BBC News

    The National Union of Teachers says it believes over 400 schools are closed or partially shut in Essex today.

    Karl, from the Wirral,

    texts: Both Mersey Tunnels are closed today so decided not to do a 60 Mile detour to get to work today.


    Prospect Union tweets: #n30 We estimate 90% of Prospect members in the Office of Rail Regulation are on #strike today.


    We've heard a lot of opposing views about today's strike action. Make up your own mind with our piece on public and private sector pensions compared.


    UK Border Agency worker Kevin Mills, 48, at Dover, says he is only asking for the government to protect the pensions they had been promised. "Last year I had 12 years to go until retirement and now I have 19 years. It's going to cost me over \u00a31,000 a year to pay into it and I'm probably going to get \u00a31,000 a year less for it if I live long enough to receive it," he says.

    1012: Breaking News

    A sum up of the airport situation. Chief Operating Officer Scott Stanley from Gatwick says passengers are still passing through border controls with no delay, passengers at Heathrow Airport are also largely unaffected and Birmingham Airport says it's business as usual.

    1012: Sue Nicholson, BBC News

    There are 230 fully or partially closed schools across Kent - out of a total of 592. And in Medway, 79 schools have been affected out of a total of 109.

    Tony Brown, BBC News

    Ten people are manning a picket line at the Old Bailey.


    Radio 5 Live is covering the latest from the strikes across the UK. Victoria Derbyshire is live right now, and you can listen back to a strike special with Tony Livesey here.


    Metro trains are parked up at Gosforth, Newcastle, as the industrial action hits the transport system in the North East.

    Metro trains parked up at Gosforth, Newcastle as the industrial action hits the transport system in the North East.

    There was little support for the strike from these small business owners who spoke to the BBC's Richard Westcott.

    1020: Sitala Peek, BBC News

    There are no cremations or burials taking place in Stoke-on-Trent. Elsewhere in the city, a handful of council workers have agreed to staff a registry office wedding that was booked before the strike date was announced. The council says there will be no picket lines outside the registry office.

    1023: Annette Bartholomew, BBC News

    Hundreds of strikers are starting to gather outside Gateshead Civic Centre ahead of mass rally. The protest will leave for Newcastle in next hour.


    Public sector workers man a picket line at the entrance to the Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert, Scotland.

    Public sector workers man a picket line at the entrance to the Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert, Scotland
    1025: Matt Cole, Europe Correspondent

    Have just landed from Brussels at LHR terminal 1. Have never seen it so quiet. Scores of purple jacketed helpers are standing around virtually redundant. They're clutching ipads and blackberries to help inform passengers, but their only role for now is to usher passengers through the deserted passport hall. My passport was checked by a woman who usually works for HMRC. She said it had been quiet all morning.

    1026: Breaking News Chris Bennett, BBC News

    South East Coast Ambulance Service say the strike is having a "significant impact" on services. They say they are now only responding to "life-threatening emergencies".


    Marches involving more than 1,000 protesters will be taking place in Oxford and Reading this afternoon, Thames Valley Police says.

    1031: Nick Traver, BBC News

    Outside the University of Brighton, principal lecturer in philosophy, Tom Hickey, in the picket line, says the pension situation is "an attack on our lives" . He says "everyone is united that the government is not going to steal our pensions to pay for a bankers crisis".

    Picket line outside Brighton University
    Breaking News

    London Ambulance Service tells BBC London 94.9: "We are struggling". About 73% of control room staff are working 58% of crews are working. Assistant Chief Ambulance Officer John Pooley says: "If you have something that isn't life-threatening the chances are you will not get an ambulance today so please think very seriously before you call us".


    Teacher Niamh Sweeney explains why she is striking over 'too many pension reforms' and how she'd struggle to find the extra money for her pension fund.


    A quick look at the Eurotunnel and Eurostar now. Eurotunnel says there are no delays or backlog at present, while Eurostar says there are no delays and it is not expecting any trouble.

    1036: Patrick Howse, BBC News

    An update from Northern Ireland. The Belfast Trust, the largest health trust in NI, says that 3,500 appointments have been postponed. Around two-thirds of Northern Ireland's schools are closed.


    BBC News Facebook page comment: Tony Hoyle\u00a0writes, "Seems they're striking for more when everyone else is learning to live on less. Don't see what they're trying to achieve - the government isn't going to increase their pensions just because the bins weren't collected for a day."


    BBC News Facebook page comments: Mike Slade\u00a0writes, "Well my recycling bin hasn't been emptied this morning but I don't mind, they have an important cause to stand up for."

    1039: Jon Sopel BBC News

    at London's Lincoln 's Inn Fields, says between 8,000 to 10,000 people are expected at the march in the capital later.

    1045: Breaking News

    Simon Walker, of the Institute of Directors, tells the BBC the strike is doing "significant damage" to the economy. "If you're damaging the productive capacity of this country you're really doing huge damage to the fabric of the economy and that will last a long time and impact on all of us," he says.

    1046: Breaking News

    In Scotland only 30 of the 2,700 council-run schools are believed to be open due to action by teaching unions. The figures come from the local authority body, Cosla. It's the first national strike for more than 20 years by Scotland's largest teaching union, the EIS.

    1047: Harriet Noble, BBC News

    From London City Airport: No impact thus far, there are no delays and queues as normal. They are monitoring the situation, and hoping that disruption remains normal. All immigration desks are fully manned, and expect them to continue to be so throughout the day.

    Philip, from Hackney

    tweets: Many don't even seem to understand that the strike is about defending what was already promised, not about asking for more. #strike #solidarity #n30


    PCS Member Diane Burton, who works for the UK Border Agency, pickets outside her office in Liverpool.

    PCS Member Diane Burton who works for the UK Border Agency strikes outside their office in Liverpool
    1052: Jeremy Ball, BBC News

    There are picket lines at the British Geological Survey and Environment Agency in Nottinghamshire.


    In south-west England, Bristol airport is operating normally but the Torpoint ferry, which takes cars between Devon and Cornwall, is closed. The Dartmouth Lower Ferry, which is operated by South Hams District Council, is also closed.


    A bus carrying union members drives through Parliament Square in central London.

    A bus carrying union members drives through Parliament Square in central London November 30, 2011.
    BBC News website reader Sushimo

    comments on the BBC's strike story: 67 years old, still working due to meager pension and will continue until he cannot lift his tools anymore, nor clamber over roofs to fix them. This is the reality of my man working in the private sector. Sympathy for this bunch? You have to be joking!!

    BBC News website reader

    comments on the the BBC's strike story: I am 42 years old; have worked more than 20 years earning way lower than the national average. I am not a parasite draining the public purse but a tax payer contributing to a pension too, probably like many in the private sector


    The Scottish Parliament says about half of its employees are absent. It employs about 450 staff. A rally will take place outside the building after strikers march down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.


    Marches are due to take place all round the UK later, the largest predicted in London's Lincoln's Inn Fields.

    striker at London's Lincoln's Inn Fields
    1101: Breaking News Mike Sergeant, Local Government Correspondent

    tweets: Met Police say 4 arrests so far in London ahead of the march. 2 for assaulting an officer; 2 for possession of a weapon.

    Breaking News Jon Manel, BBC's Radio 4

    The Cabinet Office says according to "early indications", significantly less than a third of civil servants are taking strike action today.

    1105: Lynette Horsburgh, BBC News

    Unison health rep Tim Ellis says around 1000 people have gathered at Bolton Town Square and describes the mood as "buoyant".


    A UK Border Agency spokesperson says the security of the UK border remains its "top priority". He says: "Early signs show our contingency plans are minimising the impact of strike action, but waiting times at some ports may still be slightly longer than normal."


    BBC News Facebook page comment: Dominic Bosher writes, "At least they have jobs, with a million young people unemployed stop being so ungrateful and get back to work."


    BBC News Facebook page comment: Jules Woodhell says, "I am self employed but have taken today off and will join the strikers on their march and rally."

    1115: Breaking News

    The Department of Health has told NHS trusts in England they must not release figures regarding staff on strike or the number of cancelled operations and appointments. A letter sent out by the DoH says a "national position" statement must be sent to the media ahead of any regional breakdowns.

    1117: James Vincent, BBC News

    Police say around 500 people are marching along Division Street in the city centre. Demonstration planned for 1200 GMT

    Jen, from Oxfordshire,

    tweets: Joined Unison today. Can't #strike today, but I certainly will if there's another one. Today, donating to the hardship fund instead.


    Unite general secretary Len McCluskey says: "Working people are being asked to pay for the economic mess caused by the greedy City elite whose behaviour this spineless government has repeatedly failed to tackle".

    1125: Breaking News

    The Cabinet Office says in the whole of the UK only 18 job centres out of over 900 are closed.


    First Minister Alex Salmond speaks to picketers outside the Scottish Parliament.

    First Minister Alex Salmond speaks to picketers outside the Scottish Parliament.

    The Cabinet Office adds probation trusts are prioritising essential work to protect the public, and where possible public sector prisons are running as full a regime as possible.

    1128: James Shaw, Radio 5 live

    says 11 big rallies taking place across Scotland. Members of Parliament, including Labour and Green party MPs, will be taking part in the action outside the Scottish Parliament.

    1131: Julia Leonard, BBC News

    Steel drums and glockenspiels have started as public sector workers gather for the start of the rally on Mealcheapen Street in Worcester. Union branch leaders say there are expecting "at least 300 people" to turn out.

    1136: Lee Kerry, from Gravesend,

    writes: I have worked in local government for 32 years now and we have all contributed to our pensions. Most private sector workers have made very little allowance for their retirement and so make the arguments based on jealousy & sour grapes.

    1145: Vicki Young, Political Correspondent

    says a small number of Downing Street staff have gone on strike, while others have been affected by school closures. There was no take up of the offer of a creche facility in Downing Street, and Mr Cameron's son is at a friend's house.

    Sussex Police

    tweet: Total number of people marching or at assembly point in #Brighton is around 2500 #nov30

    1145: Simon Dedman, BBC News

    Over 1000 strikers begin their march through Birmingham.


    An update on the school situation: In Wales, more than 1,500 out of 1,776 schools have closed their doors. In East Sussex, 117 were fully closed and 27 partly shut. In West Sussex, the county council said 141 were either fully or partly closed.


    Terminal 3 at Heathrow Airport looks quieter than usual.

    Terminal 3 at Heathrow
    Paul Schagen, from Manchester,

    writes: I work for an immigration tribunal in Manchester city centre. I am on strike today. There are people crossing the picket line but they are still showing us support. I will probably have to pull out of the pension scheme which will mean I will be a drain on society financially when I'm older.


    Strikers around the country are setting off on their protest marches. In Birmingham, they are "10 or 12 deep" as they make their way up Lionel Street, according to the BBC's Emma Kasprzak.


    More from the rallies around the country. More than 3,000 protesters gather at Liverpool's Pier Head for the start of the march, according to the BBC's Julia Houston. Meanwhile, police in Sheffield say 3,500 people have gathered in the city centre.

    Chris Moffitt, from Nottingham,

    tweets: Crossed picket line at Nottingham NHS site. Experienced abuse. Ppl need to think b4 they speak, as support the action.


    London mayor Boris Johnson tells the BBC the strikes "won't make a bean of difference" to the outcome of negotiations. "[It] is regrettable and wrong. It's exactly what this country doesn't need in tough financial times."


    David Cameron is taking Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons. He is bound to be asked about today's strike.


    It's a quiet scene at Belfast's Central Station, where services are cancelled.

    A sign warning passengers there are no services from Belfast's Central Station

    Labour leader Ed Miliband quotes a headteacher who was highlighted by the PM in June for not going on strike then. Mr Miliband said she was on strike today and had given the reason for her change of mind on no longer having faith in the government. He asks why so many decent public sector workers feel the government isn't listening.


    Mr Cameron says they're striking because they disagree with the pension changes - but these changes are vital. He says workers have walked out while talks are still ongoing. He reminds Ed Miliband that earlier this year he too said strikes were wrong while talks were continuing.


    In Worcester, marchers reach Angel Place and gather in Tramps nightclub for the rally, says the BBC's Julia Leonard. Meanwhile, police in Sheffield estimate the numbers gathered there at up to 6,000.

    1208: Breaking News

    Labour leader Ed Miliband accuses the prime minister of "spoiling for this fight" over public sector pensions and says people have lost faith because "he's not being straight".

    1210: Breaking News

    Mr Cameron says Mr Miliband backs the strike now - unlike earlier - "because he's left-wing, irresponsible and weak".


    As many as 7,000 people are gathered in Leeds, says the BBC's Trevor Gibbons. Meanwhile, reporter Amber Henshaw says about 120 people have arrived for a rally in Shrewsbury.

    1210: Vicki Young Political correspondent, BBC News

    at PMQs: These are the most furious exchanges for weeks. David Cameron and Ed Miliband using very personal attacks on each other.

    Carl Roper , TUC National Organiser,

    tweets: Liverpool march applauded by shoppers as it goes #Nov30


    The BBC's Mike Sergeanttweets: #strike #n30 Westminster City Council says "business as usual" for most services. But 43 schools affected; 13 libraries closed.


    Mr Miliband accuses the prime minister of not understanding his own policy - not understanding the impact on women and children. He accuses the PM of "cooking up a deal" with the Deputy PM Nick Clegg to cut a billion pounds from tax credit.

    1214: Vicki Young Political correspondent, BBC News

    It's clear that Ed Miliband's tactic is to paint the Chancellor as out of touch with low paid workers while Mr Cameron's response is to accuse Labour of being in the pocket of the unions.


    Mr Cameron says independent assessments show more people will be in work and the claimant count for unemployment benefit will be lower at the next Autumn Statement than at present.


    "Marchers use umbrellas to stop police officer taking pictures of protesters. Police officer retreats," says the BBC's Nick Tarver in Brighton.

    Karen from Yorkshire

    tweets: Sneaked in back entrance at work. Resent being made to feel uncomfortable by colleagues who would normally be friendly.


    BBC Cambridgeshire reports that the 7,000 people expected in Cambridge have not materialised. About 600 to 800 are rallying there.


    Mr Cameron replies by attacking Mr Miliband for taking the side of striking workers causing disruption across the country. To Labour backbenchers, he says: "They're all shouting in unison. Or should that be shouting on behalf of Unison."

    Salman Khan, from Sheffield,

    tweets: I'm a 23 year old trainee teacher and I do not support the strikes at this time. Let Govt finish negotiations THEN strike.


    Latest figures highlighting the impact on the NHS. About 6,000 of some 30,000 routine operations have been cancelled, the BBC understands. That includes 400 in Wales, where 7,000 outpatients appointments have been cancelled or delayed.


    BBC News Facebook page comment: Eileen Ross writes, "Cameron says we are hurting the poor people by striking - doesn't he know it is the poor people who are striking to save their pensions?"


    Prime Minister David Cameron says the strike "looks something like a damp squib", quoting reports suggesting 40% of schools are open, less than a third of the civil service is on strike and only 18 Job Centres closed.


    In Scotland about 500 operations - a fifth of the total - are cancelled, with more than 4,000 appointments scapped. Some 5,500 operations are cancelled in England, along with 40,000 outpatient appointments and 12,000 diagnostic tests. We are still waiting for figures from Northern Ireland.


    "Thousands of people have started to rally outside City Hall in Norwich where bands are playing and speeches being made. Crowd chanting along to Bob Marley - 'Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights'," says the BBC's David Keller.

    Matt, from London,

    texts: I work in an educational institution in south east London. In my building out of around 70 staff, only 8 are in work. I may be in but fully behind the strike action taken today.


    Town halls are the focal point of demonstrations in many parts of the country, like this one in Lambeth, south London.

    Pickets outside Lambeth Town Hall, south London

    About 3,000 people attend a rally at St James Park in Exeter after many marched from the city's Cathedral Green, says the BBC's Bethany Rose.


    Police estimate 3,500 people are taking part in a march in Brighton as part of today's public sector strike. Unions had earlier forecast that up to 10,000 would take part, says the BBC's Chris Bennett.


    Over two hundred people have gathered in the town square for rally at 1230. Many are blowing whistles or vuvuzelas, says the BBC's Neil Smith in Barrow.


    Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband clashed over the public sector strikes during PMQs. Watch the heated exchange here.


    Scottish TUC General Secretary Graeme Smith says he hopes the strike campaign will not be protracted but adds: "If the government doesn't see sense and doesn't get back to some serious and fair negotiations, then I'm afraid this may be just the start."


    PMQs is over and Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude is on his feet. He's giving an update to the House on the strikes.


    He begins by thanking "the majority of public sector workers who have turned up to work today".

    BBC News website reader

    comments on the BBC's strike story: I'm non-striking public sector. I can't even answer the phones today for risk of strike breaking. Pathetic.


    He says the strike is about long overdue reforms to pension schemes and industrial action while talks are still ongoing is "just plain wrong".


    BBC News Facebook page comment: "Chris Ivory says, "Cameron resorts to personal attacks and the unions as if they are the devil incarnate. So he has no argument. His behaviour today will lose him many votes.


    Mr Maude explains the government's case for change - longer life expectancy in particular. He also discusses the more generous offer that ministers made earlier this month, which he says will do more to protect the lowest paid workers.

    1241: Breaking News

    Scotland Yard says two protesters were arrested after a woman police support officer was assaulted in clashes surrounding strikes at Hackney bus garage, north London.


    The BBC's David Keller clarifies that hundreds of people are protesting in Norwich, rather than thousands.


    "The offer on the table is by any standards a generous one," Mr Maude says.


    "It's simply not true to say the government is not negotiating and I was surprised to hear the leader of the opposition say that," Mr Maude says.


    135,000 civil servants - not much more than a quarter - are on strike, Mr Maude says.


    Chloie Fraser sent in this photo of the march in Edinburgh.

    Marchers in Edinburgh

    "I have huge respect for the dedicated women and men who keep our public services running. They deserve to retire on decent pensions - our reforms will ensure that," Mr Maude says.


    The Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna says on the BBC's Daily Politics that David Cameron has to be "very very careful" in the language he uses to describe those on strike. He says the PM is in a sense the "father to the nation" and his tone is wrong.


    No disruption is being reported at Luton, London City, Stansted and Gatwick airports, where managers say immigration areas are operating smoothly.

    Fiona, from Southend on Sea,

    writes: There are more people on strike in my workplace than there are members of the Union.


    The first demonstrators have arrived on Kingsway and about 200 people are making their way up towards Holborn, the BBC's Jason Caffrey in London says.


    Marchers in Brighton are suffering in intermittent downpours, with some leaving. Those left remain in high spirits, the BBC's Nick Tarver says. Meanwhile, in Sheffield, more than 3,000 people are marching through streets from Barkers Pool to Devonshire Green, the BBC's Stephanie Barnard says.

    Louise, from Wakefield

    writes: I am a part-time secondary school teacher and totally support the strike action. I agree, in principle, to contributing more to pensions but what is being asked is considerable. I do not want to be standing in front of a class of teeenagers as a grandma, nor do I want my children to be taught by their grandparents!


    Quick update on that Brighton march. Police say some 6,000 people are at a rally.


    Meanwhile, about 1,000 people are taking part in a rally in the centre of Reading.


    Unison's John Sharman tells the London rally they are sending a "fantastic message" to the government.

    1310: Will Walden, Westminster News Editor

    Downing Street confirms the PM's press secretary Gabby Bertin is working on passport control at Heathrow Airport's Terminal 1. Ms Bertin, who is one of David Cameron's closest aides, is among a number of staff from no 10 working at Heathrow today.


    A Heathrow airport press officer says it is "still the same story, everything's running OK".


    Here's that clip of David Cameron accusing Labour leader Ed Miliband of being "irresponsible, left wing, weak" as they exchanged political blows over the day of action by public sector workers.


    The BBC's Dominic Hurst says the union march in central London has now set off.


    Translink, the company which runs Northern Ireland's public transport services, says there's been a total shutdown of rail and bus services.


    Half of Greater Manchester's road ambulance crews are on strike but no stations are closed, North West Ambulance Service says. They are prioritising calls.


    Demonstrators march during a rally through Bristol city centre.

    Demonstrators march during a rally through Bristol city centre.

    Home Secretary Theresa May tells the BBC she recognises people are concerned about pensions but that the government has made a "generous" offer and going ahead with the strike is "irresponsible".


    The BBC's Amber Henshaw says about 250 to 300 people are in the square at the rally in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. A series of union members are now speaking. There's loud cheering from the crowd who are waving banners and placards.


    The National Indoor Arena in Birmingham is starting to fill with union members who have been on a march through the city, the BBC's Liz Cave says. They are gathering for a rally with the main union leaders who are due to speak at 13:30 GMT.


    Devon and Cornwall Police estimate 3,900 people took part in the march through Exeter, with about 2,500 at the rally in the city's St James Park.


    Placards are playing a big part in the protest over pensions in central London.

    A demonstrator holds a placard at a protest during a public service strike over pensions in central London.

    Around 2,000 union members have converged on Southampton's Guildhall Square, the BBC's Stephen Stafford says.

    1331: Norman Smith Chief political correspondent, BBC News Channel

    says it's inevitable that neither side wants to blink first but ministers and union leaders seem to be getting further apart.


    "The Scottish government says less than 40% of its staff are taking part in today's strike," the BBC's Glenn Campbell at the Scottish Parliament says.


    There are hundreds of strikers in County Square, Maidstone, reports the BBC's Tanya Gupta, with Unison estimating 400 have turned out. Speeches declare: "We say no to working longer. We say no to government attacks."


    More than 130 government scientists - including particle physicists and software engineers - are on strike at Harwell Oxford, a science, innovation and business campus, the BBC's James Ingham says.


    The BBC's Judith Moritztweets: Picket line at Sheffield's Northern General Hospital. Around 30 strikers here.


    "If it looks like a pension tax, if it sounds like a pension tax, what is it?" an ATL union member asks at a rally in Kent.


    The BBC's Fiona Trotttweets: Police say around 8,500 at Newcastle/Gateshead rally #n30 #strike

    Mike from Cambridgeshire

    writes: I work for the NHS and am in work today providing emergency cover. I can appreciate people's sense of questioning why we are striking today. My decreased pension will pay for the complete mess of things that the bankers made. Is that fair?


    Go North East say their buses in Tyne and Wear have been packed today with passengers who would normally travel on the Metro. The company put on 40 extra buses and brought in 90 more staff to minimise the impact on those travelling, it says.


    Here's an aerial view of the Manchester march.

    Demonstrators march with flags and placards as they protest during a public service strike over pensions in central Manchester

    Juliet Wilson, a chartered physiotherapist from Cockermouth, in Cumbria, tells the BBC why she's become a first-time striker at the age of 53: "I think it's such an important issue. It'll show the government a good message but I think... there's going to be more [action]".


    Six-year-old Amelia Byrom with a banner of support during a trade union meeting in Dover, Kent.

    Six year old Amelia Byrom with a banner of support during a Trades Union meeting in Dover, Kent.

    The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust says all planned operations had been cancelled, together with "virtually all" outpatient clinics - and it is providing only acute and emergency care.


    RMT boss Bob Crowe has just given a rousing speech to strikers on Newcastle quayside, the BBC's Annette Bartholomew says.


    Councils confirm 246 schools are closed in Derbyshire; 286 in Nottinghamshire; 186 in Leicestershire; 91 in Leicester city and 78 in the city of Derby.


    A public sector worker waves flags during a rally in Bradford city centre.

    A public sector worker waves flags during a rally in Bradford City centre.

    Whole families are at the demonstration in Maidstone as schools are closed. Public sector protesters are here with kids, dogs, bikes, banners, placards, the BBC's Tanya Gupta says.


    The BBC's Mike Sergeant tweets: #n30 #strike Strong police presence + metal cordons in Trafalgar Square. Interesting new tactic. To stop any attempt to occupy?


    Here's a quick reminder of the main areas affected by today's strikes. Department for Education figures suggest more than half (58%) of England's 21,700 state schools are closed, with another 13% partly shut.


    In Scotland, 30 of the 2,700 council-run schools are believed to be open, says local authority body Cosla, while in Wales 80% of schools are shut. In Northern Ireland, three of the five education library boards have reported that over 50% of 1,200 schools are closed.


    Transport wise, Britain's two biggest airports - Heathrow and Gatwick - are largely unaffected, but in Northern Ireland, no bus or train services are operating.


    NHS managers say about 6,000 out of just over 30,000 routine operations in the UK have been cancelled, along with tens of thousands of appointments.


    Meanwhile, London Ambulance Service tells BBC London it is "struggling" and may not be able to attend to people who are not in a life-threatening condition. South East Coast Ambulance Service says it is only responding to "life-threatening emergencies".


    Public sector workers have also been out in force on the streets, marching in London, Belfast and Birmingham among other places. Here are marchers in Leeds.

    Public sector workers march through Leeds

    For more images from the strike, have a look at our picture gallery.


    Staff at a bank branch close to the main Northern Ireland trade union rally in Belfast city centre have been receiving strike security advice.


    Holly Collins, a 26-year-old teacher from Egremont, tells BBC Radio Cumbria at a lunchtime rally in Whitehaven it felt "unbelievable" that she was on strike for the second time this year but that she felt strongly about the issue.

    Per Nyberg in London

    tweets: Just started to rain here at #Heathrow, the feared 12 hour waits at the airport have turned into faster immigration controls than normal


    Bernard Ross came through Terminal 5 at Heathrow this morning and found it almost empty.

    Empty Heathrow terminal. Photo: Bernard Ross

    The march supporting the pensions strike reaches its end at London's embankment. Marchers cheer and wave placards, the BBC's Dominic Hurst says.


    It is not just the UK affected by public sector strikes. About 10,000 workers in Bulgaria are protesting against government plans to raise the pension age by a year, AFP news agency reports.


    Radiographers from The Royal Liverpool Hospital use a model skeleton to put across their views.

    Radiographers from The Royal Liverpool Hospital, on a picket line with a skeleton
    Sgt. Marc Jordan, Essex police

    tweets: On standby at boreham in case of disorder in #publicsectorstrikes no disorder reported in Essex today. #SafeInEssex


    The back of the London strike march is still at Trafalgar Square, suggesting a large turnout of many thousands of union members and supporters, the BBC's Dominic Hurst says.


    Andrew Morgan, a CPS prosecutor from Oxford marching today, says: "We're angry that the government is tearing up the 2007 pensions agreement it had with the civil service".


    The end of the main London march has passed the start line at Lincoln Inn Fields, the BBC's Tom Quinn says. It has taken more than an hour and 10 minutes for the length of the protest line to snake past the start line and a clean-up operation has now begun, he adds.


    Public sector workers from multiple unions including the GMB, Unite and Unison march through central Southampton.

    Public sector workers from multiple unions including the GMB, Unite and Unison march through central Southampton.
    Mr Jones from East Anglia, England

    writes: I am a teacher and the strike isn't just about the pension, it's about the pay freeze we have been given for the last two years. Schools have had massive budget cuts which have been branded as 'efficiency savings'. The teacher's pension scheme has been attacked from different directions all at once. I support the strikes and I understand why they are being done. I sympathise with people that have been inconvenienced and also with workers in the private sector.


    In Oxford, the protest procession is about to enter the town centre. Police on horseback are accompanying the demonstrators. A samba band is setting the rhythm, the BBC's Emma Vardy says.


    Scotland Yard says the 37 protesters detained in Dalston Lane, east London, this morning have now been arrested on suspicion of breach of the peace.

    Paul Waugh, Editor of

    tweets: Exclusive: the No.10 press officer who leads for Govt on strikes is...on strike. So not just junior staff who have joined #n30


    An empty overspill marquee, set up in preparation for overcrowding due to striking workers, is seen outside Terminal 3 of Heathrow Airport.

    An empty overspill marquee outside Terminal 3 of Heathrow Airport.
    Benedict Brogan, Deputy Editor of The Daily Telegraph

    tweets: If you are a cancelled patient or stuck with kids parent, what do you think of cheering strikers at self-congratulation rally in B'ham? #n30


    Police at the Scottish Parliament estimate that 7,000 people took part in a march and rally in Edinburgh in support of today's strike. Trade union officials say the turnout was much higher.


    NHS Milton Keynes and Northamptonshire says there has been "minimal disruption" to health services. Northampton General, Kettering General and Milton Keynes hospitals are all operating within contingency plans, a spokesman says, and there are no reports of strike action among staff at GP practices.


    While public sector workers are striking over pensions, right-leaning think-tank Policy Exchange suggests they enjoy a "pay premium" worth \u00a31,900 a year over equivalent employees in the private sector. That applies even after the two-year pay freeze imposed by Chancellor George Osborne yesterday, it says.


    Museums and galleries are also being affected by today's action. The Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, and Tyne and Wear Museums are among those that are completely closed.


    Thousands of public sector workers are attending a march in Glasgow.

    Thousands of public sector workers attend a march against pension cuts on November 30, 2011 in Glasgow

    Speeches have finished at the TUC rally in Birmingham, the BBC's Liz Cave says.


    NUT leader Christine Blower tells the BBC News channel that "for there to be meaningful negotiations there has to be something else on the table".


    Fancy dress has been a theme at the marches.

    A protester in fancy dress during the multi-union march through central Nottingham

    Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb says "at the end of the day this is all being driven by the fact that we are living longer". Mr Lamb says someone has to pay for longer life expectancy.

    Joe Murphy, Political Editor of the Evening Standard

    tweets: Seven Labour MPs are refusing to cross picket lines - but they won't be docked a day's pay, will they?


    Mr Lamb tells the BBC News channel: "We need to ensure that a very generous pension is sustainable in the long term and I think we can achieve that." He said there needs to be a balance between individual workers and the taxpayer.


    Latest NHS figures suggest just under 7,000 elective operations in the UK have been cancelled or delayed out of approximately 30,000. Some 500 operations have been cancelled or delayed in Wales, approximately 500 in Scotland, 5,500 in England and 450 in Northern Ireland.


    Shopping centres and tourist attractions across Scotland have reported a surge in footfall as a result of the strike, with many holding special events. For more on the story go to: Scotland on strike.


    The BBC's Jeremy Cooke took a flight from Amsterdam to Heathrow early on Wednesday morning to see how much disruption the strike would cause. He filed this video saying he had never come through the airport faster.

    Stewart Hosie, MP for Dundee East and Deputy Leader of the SNP Westminster Group

    tweets: Visited three picket lines in Dundee to support those opposing the UK Government's pension plans. Met #pcs #unison and #fda reps.

    PCS union

    tweets: Serwotka: "They said this day would never happen but this is the best day for the trade union movement in generations."


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