As it happened: Public sector strike

Key points

  • Tens of thousands of public sector workers have taken part in a UK-wide strike in protest at proposed changes to their pensions.
  • More than 30,000 off-duty police officers also marched in central London in protest at budget cuts and proposed pay and conditions changes.
  • Ministers say current pension schemes are unaffordable but unions say changes mean members will pay more and work longer for less.

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    Welcome to our live coverage of the UK-wide strike by public sector workers in their ongoing dispute with the government over proposed pension changes. We will have the latest news, reaction and analysis, as it comes in, throughout the day.


    Some quotes from earlier that outline both sides of the pensions argument: The Unite union's Gail Cartmail said under the government proposals members would "have to pay more, work longer and get less and they have said, by this very large majority, enough is enough". But Home Office minister Nick Herbert called the strike "unnecessary and futile", adding: "The government's offer on public sector pensions is an entirely fair one."


    For more explanation of the strike and the background dispute, see our Q&A on the story.


    Prison officers across Scotland have joined public sector colleagues in England and Wales in strike action. Staff walked out at 06:00 BST. It is illegal for prison officers in England and Wales to strike but not in Scotland. Our Scotland team has the story here.

    0932: Alex Littlewood Reporter

    at Heathrow, where border force staff are striking, says: "All seems quiet and free-flowing at Terminal 5. I have just come through border control within five minutes of stepping off a plane. I was travelling on my American passport and had to join the non-European Economic Area line, which was very short.

    "Almost all of the passport checkpoints were open. The airport seems very quiet and from landing to completing immigration, baggage collection and going through customs took only 30 minutes. The customs hall, from what I could see, did not appear to be manned."


    The Public and Commercial Services union says business at the Welsh Assembly was hit after Labour and Plaid Cymru members pledged not to cross the picket lines and National Museum for Wales sites are closed to the public.


    Work on Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships in port in Birkenhead and Portland has been halted by the strike, says the Rail Maritime and Transport union.


    The possible turnout of 400,000 estimated by the unions is disputed by government sources, who say they expect half that number.


    About 100 Prison Officers Association (POA) members are staging a protest at Manchester Prison. They say enough staff remain on wings to ensure prisoner safety. About 100 officers have also walked out of Leeds prison, where a POA rep says inmates are confined to their cells.

    0949: Nicola, in Manchester,

    emails: I am the wife of a British serving police officer. Off duty police officers are marching over the proposals made by Tom Winsor in his report. The government wants to destroy the rank of constable by privatization. The vocation of a police officer deems them to be on duty 24 hours, seven days a week. We need to protect our police service.

    0951: Dave Rush, in Suffolk,

    emails: The unions have destroyed all the major industries and employers over the last 30 years by striking - coal, steel, car building, newspapers etc and now they are doing the same with the public sector.


    In a statement, the PCS - the largest civil service trade union - says: "Early indications from picket lines around the country are that today's strike is being very well supported by an overwhelming majority of PCS's 250,000 public sector members."


    The PCS statement goes on to say that Prison Officers Association members have been holding protest meetings at jails across England, Scotland and Wales.


    PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka adds: "Ministers are making unpopular, unnecessary and unfair cuts to the livelihoods of public servants to pay off a deficit caused by greed and recklessness in the financial sector, and for more than 12 months have refused to negotiate on the key issues of paying more and working longer for a worse pension."

    John McManus BBC News

    tweets: This is the tshirt that offduty police officers will be wearing as they march through London in protest at cuts.


    Wendy Turner, a civil servant from Nottingham, is on strike. She sent us this picture from the picket line. She says: "I believe that the government's plans are unfair and unnecessary. We are expected to work longer but get paid less. Terms and conditions have been changed without consultation."

    Civil servants striking in Nottingham. Photo: Wendy Turner
    Fiona Trott BBC News, Newcastle

    at Strangeways Prison in Manchester tweets: BREAKING: Prison Officers Association tells me it's been notified its action is illegal. Lawyers looking into it.


    tweets: I find it ironic that there is a #strike outside of the #jobcentre today. Jobseekers should be offered strikers jobs if they are so unhappy.


    The PCS union's live blog of the strike says: "National museums in Liverpool closed by strike action, as well as Tate Gallery. 85% of members on strike at PCS Bradford Revenue and Customs branch. 98% of members on strike at Land Registry Birkenhead."

    1015: Tom Symonds Home Affairs correspondent

    at Heathrow, where border staff are striking, reports: "The majority of passengers have passed through Heathrow without problems this morning but there have been some long queues at Terminal Three. The longest was around an hour and a half for non-European Economic Area passengers according to Heathrow sources. Officials here believe T3 will not hit its non-EEA target of processing passengers within 45 minutes."


    Historic Scotland staff picket next to a statue of Robert the Bruce at Stirling Castle.

    Strikers at Stirling Castle

    At Leeds prison, West Yorkshire, the Prison Officers Association says there is a minimum regime inside the jail of about 30 officers, while more than 100 are not working.


    Len McCluskey appeals to private sector workers "not to fall into the trap of making public sector workers demons and devils". He says all workers, public and private, should band together to fight for better pensions - not turn on each other.


    PCS members picket outside the Royal Courts of Justice, in central London.

    Picket line outside Royal Courts of Justice, central London

    texts: I work for the police in custody and the government wants to privatize our jobs to save money. They plan on employing security guards for our role - putting safer detention policy in jeopardy. They are conning the public, we pay our taxes for a public service. What will happen is we will be paying for private sector security guards to keep our streets safe and see less and less police. Its one big con tax payers will be funding the public sector fat cats who got us in this mess.

    L.D. In South Wales,

    texts: I have opted not to strike today, and have even withdrawn from the PCS union, as they have a culture of propaganda and slogans, rather than one of facts and constructive discussion.


    tweets: At Wigan rally at unite building waiting for speakers to begin #m10 #solidarity #pcs #ucu #unite

    @louisacarroll, in South Shields,

    tweets: Today's picket line was very soggy, but I rocked the PCS poncho look! #M10 #proudtobepcs #pensions #pcsbringingsexyback


    Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, is currently speaking to BBC Radio 5Live. Asked earlier about the fact that the turnout is smaller today than in November, he says people "understandably get a bit deflated about what can be done" as a dispute goes on. But he insists "no union is in agreement with what the government is doing" and says the dispute "will roll on and on and on".

    He says there's "no legitimate reason" for the government to cut public sector pensions in this way, apart from a desire to "rob" ordinary working people.

    "We want the government to come back round the table and discuss with us more, in a more meaningful fashion, so we can try to reach a situation that is more acceptable to our workers."


    The PCS's live blog of the day reports about 30 members on picket lines outside entrances to the Houses of Parliament. "There's no one to clean up yesterday's state opening of Parliament," union member Denise Eltringham is reported as saying. "They'll have to roll up their own red carpet."


    tweets: I wonder if the strikers realise that actually, the majority of the country isn't behind them.. #strike #publicsector


    tweets: have no sympathy for the people on strike today, especially as they have now gone home because it is raining! #strike

    Holly Wallis BBC News

    in central London, reports: "About 30 protesters have gathered outside St Thomas' Hospital on Westminster Bridge. A car just drove by honking its horn - drawing cheers from the small group.

    "It's a blustery scene with the colouful hospital banners outside the main entrance waving in the background behind the red flags of the protesters. Not much of a police presence at all yet - one security guard standing back from the group. One protester telling a colleague to hurry up: 'Fifteen croissants left!'"

    Luke, in Burton Upon Trent,

    emails: Good luck to all police on the march today. The assault on our pay was bad enough, the assault on our pensions enough, but the assault on our terms and conditions is a death blow. People say we have jobs for life and should be happy with that, well they don't realise that is not going to be the case. Police will have the least guarantee of job security. We did not vote for this.

    David Kerr Allan, in East Lothian, Scotland,

    emails: Public sector workers just do not appear to get it. Yes, they will be required to pay a higher contribution to their pensions but we, the taxpayers, contribute much, much more. They will not receive less (on average they will live much longer than earlier generations and the total sum received will therefore increase). Their motto appears to be "I'm going to make sure that I continue to be alright - at your expense". They have to accept that the money just isn't there.

    Alasdair, in Gloucestershire,

    emails: What about the reforms on MPs pensions and allowances? Public sector is being attacked in quick time but ministers are slow to align themselves with public sector reform.

    Clive, in Stroud,

    emails: For goodness sake. Just get on and and do your jobs. I'm a former civil servant and would have had no issues (had I not been made redundant) with the restructuring. For those who continue on this path, why not step aside and let somebody who is currentry unemployed have your job. I'm sure they wouldn't strike, they would be thankful for a well paid job.

    Dominic Casciani Home affairs correspondent

    blogging about the rally by police, says: "Some 16,000 of the marchers will wear black baseball caps to represent the number of officers that the Police Federation says will be lost by 20% budget cuts in England and Wales." Read more here.

    Stephanie Compton, in Essex,

    emails: I fully support the public sector with their strike. People like nurses, doctors, teachers, police etc are working for the public good (frequently abused by said public) for modest pay without extra benefits or bonuses. The very least they deserve is to be well looked after in their old age. Unfortunately these Tory politicians are more concerned with keeping big business happy than protecting those who keep the country's infrastructure working.

    Chris East, in Hertfordshire,

    emails: When did this become a "fat cats" and "banker bashing" strike? Nobody forced anyone to borrow beyond their means. I am a private sector employee, having had my pension benefits reduced (after consultation) and seen my pay materially reduced over the past three years. I have to consider myself lucky to have a job having seen a number of friends and colleagues lose theirs with little opportunity to re-enter the jobs market. Nobody went on strike in these instances.

    Mark Easton Home editor

    suggests some in government may be disappointed the protests are not bigger. "They thought this period in our politics might... represent an opportunity to rouse a populace that has come to regard itself as consumer rather than citizen," he blogs here.

    Holly Wallis BBC News

    in central London, is told by Guy's Hospital worker Sue: "I'm just really concerned that this move to take money out of our pensions has come on the back of huge mistakes by banks."

    Guy's Hospital worker Sue

    Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper is marching with police officers today. She says 16,000 officers are being lost across the country - and this is "irresponsible and taking a risk with crime". The government is making changes to police forces in "a very fragmented way", she adds. Labour supports cuts of around 12% to police budgets, but Ms Cooper rejects suggestions she is therefore on the march "under false pretences".


    texts: No sympathy at all for the strikers. The very people who get the best pension deal are taking strike action detrimental to the very people who subsidise public pensions (through their taxes) and who suffer the worst pension terms themselves i.e. the hard working and wealth creating private sector!

    1118: Holly Wallis BBC News

    at St Thomas' Hospital, central London, reports: "Mostly NHS workers here - worried about changes to the NHS as well as pensions. The mood is good, people are smiling, eating breakfast, catching up. Chanting: '68 is too late!'"


    BBC Wales correspondent Hywel Griffith says disruption to the Welsh NHS seems to be minimal - with about 5,000 workers on strike. The main impact is to test facilities, with patients facing delays rather than cancellations.

    @liedra, in Leicester,

    tweets: I'm on strike today because I don't think the government should be paying for their budget with peoples' pensions. #ucu #strike #solidarity

    1126: Holly Wallis BBC News

    at St Thomas' Hospital, central London, adds: "Some Japanese tourists navigate their way past the crowd. Few more police now - standing back, on radios and looking quite relaxed. Traffic is heavy - threatening to drown out the chanting, but the protesters up the volume. A woman takes over the loudhailer - cheering for all the medical staff who are joining the rally, from medical engineers to NHS secretaries."

    B Fyfe, in Aberdeen, Scotland,

    emails: I believe the media have only captured part of the reason why so many off-duty and retired police officers are marching through London today. Police: In the Line of Fire video on the Metropolitan Police Federation website explains more.


    Len McCluskey, on the fact that not all unions are involved today: "I envisage that it won't be too long before workers and unions come back together again and continue this campaign for justice."

    Doing more to oppose the government's austerity plans is "something Ed Miliband will have to work on", he adds. "We have to have a Labour government that rejects austerity and gives people hope."

    Gary, in Stockton on Tees,

    emails: I am a serving prison officer, I accept reform is required, and am happy to contribute more to my pension. My stance is on the government's belief I will be capable of carrying out the role of a prison officer at 68 years of age!

    Dominic Casciani Home affairs correspondent

    in central London tweets: A couple of officers waiting in protest march debating whether to nick driver in traffic jam who's texting.


    Strike action delays the trial of three people accused of murdering three generations of one family in an arson attack, when two defendants are not released by prison officer to be brought to Maidstone Crown Court. Judge Mr Justice Sweeney says: "I have ordered that they be brought here. The transport is standing by to bring them here. The trick is getting them out of the prison to the transport."

    Mick, Shropshire,

    emails: As a serving police officer, I commend the thousands of colleagues from all public sectors, on their day of action. I am cynical about the government's intentions over the recent Winsor recommendations. Measures designed to save money, have been rushed through, like the mutual aid arrangements in time for the Olympics, while others, such as financial recognition for unsocial hours worked is being delayed until 2014! Smacks of hypocrisy to me. We're being asked to do far more, with less!


    A spokesman for the prime minister says: "This government inherited the highest deficit in the G20. Dealing with that deficit has involved some tough decisions. One of those has been to reform public service pensions."

    The government believes it has "come up with a fair plan which is fair to the taxpayer as well as to public servants", he says.

    "Public service pensions will remain among the very best available anywhere," he adds. "If you tried to take out the equivalent scheme in the private sector, it would amount to about one-third of your pay."


    Officials say about 2,500 prison officers are on strike in Scotland. The Scottish Prison Service says every jail is affected except for the privately-operated sites at Kilmarnock and Addiewell. All prison transfers and visits have been cancelled, although medical and catering staff are being allowed to cross picket lines.

    1150: Breaking News

    The Ministry of Justice says a walkout by prison officers at most jails is unlawful. It says it is considering seeking a court injunction to force staff at prisons across England and Wales to return to work.


    On the police protest, a Downing Street spokesman says: "We think the reductions in spending on the police are challenging but manageable and that the police will still have the resources that they need to do the important work that they do."

    Chris Milburn, East Peckham,

    emails: I work in IT in the private sector, we had no pay rise this year and I haven't had a pay rise in line with inflation for five years. Our company was taken over and all benefits were cancelled including our pension, meanwhile my civil servant neighbour has retired at the age of 49.


    On the prison officers' walkouts, an MoJ spokeswoman says: "Ministers are keeping all options for bringing this action to an end under consideration."

    BBC's Norman Smith,

    tweets: Govt say more than three quarters of civil servants have ignored strike call and are at work.


    tweets: Millbank Northbound closed, demo {BR}

    Sky News Political Correspondent, Sophy Ridge,

    tweets: Cabinet Office source: around 100,000 civil servants are on strike. (Considerably less than union estimate)


    General secretary Steve Gillan says the Prison Officers Association has told government that retiring as late as 68 is unrealistic. "It has fallen on deaf ears and prison officers have no other option but to protest to gain public attention."


    The Prison Officers Association instructed its members to provide only minimum cover to preserve health and safety within jails, but believes the industrial action is within the law.


    tweets: #unite workers starting to gather at QE hospital #Birmingham, on #strike to defend pensions. #m10


    Passengers arriving at Gatwick airport are warned of possible delays at immigration - owing to a border officers' strike. A border force spokesman says a "trained pool of contingency staff" is being used to minimise disruption. He adds: "Delays are being kept to a minimum and we will continue to deploy staff to manage peak arrivals."

    1215: Holly Wallis BBC News

    in central London, as marchers set out from St Thomas' Hospital towards Westminster for a rally at 13:00 BST, says they are chanting: "David Cameron, hear us say, pension cuts - no way!"

    1217: Holly Wallis BBC News

    alongside marchers in central London, says: "They did set off but now they've paused and are chanting. They're on Westminster Bridge and the road is blocked. There are a lot more police here now. There's a couple of hundred protesters, I think people were expecting more like thousands."

    1219: Matt Prodger Home affairs correspondent

    in central London, says the police march is now under way from Millbank Tower.

    1220: Iain Watson Political correspondent, BBC News

    says PM's spokesman is asked several times if there is sympathy for rank-and-file police but declines to answer. Asked about possibility of revisiting planned changes to the service, he stresses the government's "tough fiscal challenge". So no sign of any back-pedalling.

    Darren, London,

    texts: I'm a detective working in sexual offences. I believe that the rest of the country would be more supportive if they had to pay 15% of their salary towards their pension. I would like to have marched today, but the MET have refused leave for everyone.


    texts: There's a lot of anger directed on the strikers. Please don't believe all the government tells you I can assure you our pensions are not gold plated. I personally don't mind paying more but as a paramedic work till I'm as good as 70?

    1224: James Cook Scotland Correspondent, BBC News

    says suggestion UK government could seek court injunction to force prison officers in Scotland back to work is wrong for three reasons: 1) the prison officers' strike in Scotland is not illegal; 2) the prison service in Scotland is run by the Scottish Prison Service - the Ministry of Justice has no remit; 3) in Scotland's separate legal system, an interdict issued by the Court of Session would be required.

    1225: Holly Wallis BBC News

    alongside marchers in central London, says: "We're by Westminster Abbey and there are lots of tourists taking pictures. It definitely feels as though the march is growing though it's hard to tell how many people are here."


    Prison Reform Trust director Juliet Lyon on the walkouts by prison officers: "We recognise valid concerns raised by the POA and, at the same time, fear that unannounced action of this kind is bound to have a damaging impact on people in prison and their families ranging from lock-downs to cancelled visits."


    Here are officers protesting outside Manchester prison:

    Prison staff outside Manchester prison

    Policing Minister Nick Herbert tells the BBC "police officers are well remunerated and so they should be". He says that compared with members of the armed forces and prison officers they do much better - being able to get paid overtime, for example.


    Lucy Moreton, of the Immigration Services Union, says border staff are concerned solely that the job is too physically demanding for a planned rise in retirement age to 68. "We have asked the Cabinet Office repeatedly to meet with us," she says. "This is not about the work longer, pay more, this is just about a fixed retirement age."

    1239: Holly Wallis BBC News

    reports marchers in central London chanting: "Cameron, Cameron, Cameron, out, out, out!"

    1239: Holly Wallis BBC News

    says the marchers are approaching Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, where there are lots of gazebos set up and people handing out pamphlets and waiting for them.

    Sean Rillo Rackza

    tweets: Arriving at a picket line for #M10 Strike, defending public sector workers pensions. Do show #solidarity if you're near a picket.


    Police Federation chairman Paul McKeever tells protesting officers: "We have seen what happens when we have a government that has given policing a very low priority. If you are cutting our jobs, then you are cutting the service we can deliver and the public's safety is at risk."

    Mike in Kent

    : Is it just me or are these public sector strikes completely ridiculous? It's not as if these workers are being singled out - the entire nation is being asked to work longer.

    Ken Halliday in Warrington

    I support them 100%. We need to tell the toff establishment that we, the citizens of the UK, are not going to lie down. We've paid through the nose just so that these characters can fritter our money away on futile wars and badly managed capital projects.


    A central London protester lets this picture do the talking for him.

    Protester shows off artwork
    Glen Smyth

    emails: This government has betrayed the police officers of this country. They pay 15% of salary towards their pensions now, very few other workers pay that amount. They also have had their pay cut and frozen. At least 16,000 will be lost in the cuts ahead. Will your service be better or worse? Answer worse.

    barb dwyer

    tweets: #occupy LONDON Occupy mrchg n SOLIDARITY with police!!! a true 1st

    1248: Holly Wallis BBC News

    alongside public sector protesters, at Methodist Central Hall, in central London, says: "They're going to wait now until 13:00 BST when they're going to go inside the hall for the big rally. There's another big protest group moving towards us - I think it's the police."

    1248: Holly Wallis BBC News

    adds: "The police aren't going to join us, they're just walking past."

    Glyn in South Shields

    emails: My husband is a serving prison officer at a category A prison, his friends were disabled by the lovely people they look after. I'm a private sector worker and I'm appalled at others stating "they should be pleased they have a job" or "I've taken a cut but I'm not striking". You don't go into work everyday with deviants who are more than happy to attack or kill staff!! All we do is sit in a nice warm office reading and commenting on news reports. SO GET A GRIP!


    In a statement, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude suggests about 100,000 civil servants are staging industrial action. He says "nearly all key public services remain open as usual". He adds: "Pension talks will not be reopened and nothing further will be achieved through strike action."

    Ross in London

    emails: To everyone who is moaning that the public sector shouldn't be striking because the private sector has it worse: instead of turning on people who are basically in the same boat as you, which is what the Government wants, you should be demanding better rights and better pay for yourselves.


    tweets: Solidarity from a private sector worker for public sector workers. Please remember that they pay for their pensions & are taxpayers.

    1256: Holly Wallis BBC News

    in central London, reports: "The police are still walking past, there are a lot of people in that protest and some people here are shouting: 'No justice, no peace, judge the police.'" She adds that a small anti-police group is present, and shouting out names of people who have been killed by police, like Mark Duggan.

    Chris in Brighton

    emails: I believe no one takes strike action lightly and many are doing so with no pay or in their own time. When will we realise that if we all stand back and watch and not join in our views will be unrepresented.


    Police estimate about 500 people joined the public sector pensions protest march over Westminster Bridge.

    Phil in Pickering

    emails: I am in the private sector. My pay has fallen by 25% since 2008; the value of my pension has halved. I cannot afford a decent pension for myself yet I am expected to pay for someone else's which is already way beyond anything I could ever hope for. The public sector unions detest "fat cat" bankers and company directors: can they not see how similar they are?

    1258: Holly Wallis BBC News

    at Methodist Central hall, reports: "The loud hailers are saying, 'The rally's about to start, everyone inside the hall.'"

    Dominic Casciani Home affairs correspondent

    tweets: Police Fed chief Paul McKeever well chuffed with the turn-out. He says 30,000 have come to London. #policedemo

    Police Federation chairman Paul McKeever
    David Chalk in Nottingham

    emails: Is anyone else interested in seeing how the protest by police officers is itself policed. For example will the protesting officers be 'kettled'?

    Dominic Casciani Home affairs correspondent

    tweets: Calling card left outside the Home Office. #policedemo

    Placard left outside Home Office
    Robin Smin in Manchester

    emails: If public service workers are unhappy with their pensions, give them their contributions back and let them find something better in the private sector, they won't! Why on earth should the taxpayer foot the bill for this lots pensions.

    1307: Dominic Casciani Home affairs correspondent

    reports: "There's lots of good humour on the police protest and plenty of comedy boos as marchers pass the Home Office. Funnily enough, ministers weren't taking the salute on a platform." Follow him on Twitter here.

    1311: Dominic Casciani Home affairs correspondent

    at the police protest, reports: "The Police Federation is now saying it's got 30,000 officers on the march. If that's correct, it's a fifth of all officers in England and Wales. These are people who feel grossly let down. But tomorrow they say they'll be back on shift, protecting the streets."

    Robert in Durham

    emails: I work in the private sector. People in the private sector need to remember that like for like you get paid a lot more in the private sector. People keep on bleeting on about the public sector getting paid loads of money and getting hand outs. They work very hard and need respect. Without them the country wouldn't function.

    Dominic Casciani Home affairs correspondent

    tweets: That t-shirt. Again. No inappropriate comments please. #policedemo

    Protesters on police rally

    : Police booing the Home Office on the march. Ace!

    Jon Bigger

    tweets: @pcs_union No mention of the London Passport Office? We've cut passports production down from 1000 to 85 today. 90% on strike. #PCS #m10

    The Ruby Kid

    tweets: Police Federation march imposing itself on Westminster rather more prominently that #m10 strikers. Some strikers clapping, others booing.


    "It's almost as if people are being punished for having the audacity to live longer." The PCS union's Chris Baugh disputes government claims, saying public sector pensions "are affordable, based on the National Audit Office report, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the Public Accounts Committe of MPs, even [John] Hutton's report itself indicates that the cost ... as a proportion of GDP will decline over the next few years."

    1327: Sophie Hutchinson BBC News

    reports: "A group of protesters is taunting marching police officers as they walk through Parliament Square. Chanting slogans such as, 'Mark Duggan, never again.'"

    1327: Holly Wallis BBC News

    at the public sector rally in central London, reports: "Applause at mention of the two posh boys who don't know the price of milk."


    The Metropolitan Police tells Police Federation officials that about 32,000 officers have taken part in the protest march.

    Peter in Reading

    emails: Why, when a banker takes \u00a3millions in a pension can we do nothing about it? It is claimed that it is their Terms and Conditions. But the same government asks the working man to pay more, work longer and receive less than their original Terms and Conditions state? I agree we cannot afford Gold Plated Pensions of old - but I also agree that the rich take the pot and leave us workers to fight amongst ourselves.

    1337: Fiona Trott BBC News

    at Manchester prison, formerly Strangeways, reports that the demonstration by prison officers there has ended. The Prison Officers Association says protest meetings nationwide "achieved their objective in sending clear message to government that prison officers should not be working until the age of 68".


    Home Secretary Theresa May tells MPs police officers will still be "well remunerated" and get "very good" pensions after government reforms are introduced.

    David in north east England

    emails: Scared to comment really due to work related constraints but work for public sector and have had 50% pay cut and now expected to work until I can't walk

    1340: Holly Wallis BBC News

    at the public sector rally in central London, reports angry heckling in the hall against the National Union of Teachers, as a man stands up in the crowd and asks where they are today.

    The Ruby Kid

    tweets: Police Federation march imposing itself on Westminster rather more prominently than #m10 strikers. Some strikers clapping, others booing.

    John Gardner in Suffolk

    emails: If the Great British Public had a free refendum vote on making public sector pensions (including MP's pensions) more affordable to the taxpayer - the result would certainly be even more drastic cuts!

    1344: Holly Wallis BBC News

    at the public sector rally in central london, as union leader Bob Crow calls for everyone - the entire trade union movement - to come together to take general strike action in Britain. He gets loud cheering from the hall.


    Home Secretary Theresa May says she sees "an exciting future for policing as a result of the reforms". The home secretary tells the House of Commons police forces across the UK "will continue to be able to keep people safe and to fight crime as they always have done".

    Ben Stroneham

    tweets: Loosing patience with Pub Sector. Where do people think the \u00a3 is going to come from? People are going to have to adjust to new reality #m10

    Alex in Croydon

    emails: Fully support the police march, and it's great to see their point being made peacefully but prominently. The police service in the UK has been drastically cut and their role has changed, perhaps we could bring the number of officers back to an operational level if Ministers' expenses, office allowances, pensions, staffing costs etc were reduced from the tax bill!

    Dom Scriven, in Liverpool,

    emails: Public Sector workers pay as much tax as everybody else and then their contributions are deducted from their pay, thus paying for public services twofold.


    "There's so many of them," says a bystander watching police march in Westminster, central London.

    Off-duty police officers protesting

    Peter McParlin, national chairman of the Prison Officers Association, says that if the government's plan for public sector staff to work until 68 goes through, "we won't be retiring with dignity from service, my members will be dying in service".


    Ministers say public sector workers have a pension provision more generous than many in the private sector - but is that true? This is what official statistics tell us about pensions in the UK.


    On the police march is Scott Jeffreys, a Derbyshire officer for 14 years, who says: "We're concerned about the stealth privatisation of the police service." He calls "the privatisation route ... a very dangerous one", adding: "If private companies are contracted to do a job for us and then we're low on money, they will still have to get paid, so the losses will be in frontline services again."


    Ryan Gordon, vice chair of the PCS at Companies House, Wales, sent in this picture. He says: "There is an army blockade of the road to the picket line at Companies House in Cardiff; in support of PCS members out on strike."

    Army vehicle blocks road in Cardiff. Photo: Rayn Gordon

    Here's an explanation of why police have taken to the streets, by the BBC's Dominic Casciani. You can follow him on Twitter here.


    Prison Officers Association says it ended all protest meetings at 13.30 BST. It says more than 80% of its members supported the call to conduct the protests outside jails.

    1426: Holly Wallis BBC News

    reports that Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey tells listeners "posh boys" will not be allowed to dismantle the welfare state. Discussing his mother, who recently died, he says she received "wonderful care" from the welfare state.


    You've been having your say on today's strikes. Click here to view reaction from public and private sector workers.


    Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, tells the rally in Methodist Central Hall that he will ask the TUC to add its support to calls for the re-opening of pension talks with the government.

    Jo in Hereford

    emails: Ross in London - according to him we should all be striking public and private sector for better pay and working conditions. When will you get it? There is no money the economy is in recession, and the only way we will recover is by working harder. The boom of the last ten years was all down to excess borrowing public and private and now we have to take the pain. There is no choice!


    The Ministry of Justice says that, as a result of the Prison Officers Association decision to resume normal working, there will be no attempt to obtain a court injunction against protests.

    Paul Nash, in Bristol,

    emails: 400,000 on strike, I doubt the rest of country will even notice. Don't the public sector have approximately 400,000 workers off sick on any one day anyway? Two posh boys who don't know the price of milk, how about three million public sector workers who don't know the meaning of a proper days work?


    tweets: @BBC_HaveYourSay Sad that police have to march to protect not only their livelihoods but the policing we have come to depend on #libconcuts


    Protesting police officers are angry about changes to their pay and pensions. But ministers insist that, after reforms are introduced, officers will still receive reasonable salaries and generous pensions while keeping the public safe.

    Police officers on a protest march

    tweets: I'm a private sector worker who is supporting the strike, the Govts plans are unfair & unfounded.

    Greg, in Westminster,

    emails: The march is orderly and near where my school is. It is causing chaotic queues in the surrounding areas. At Gatwick this morning my partner endured endless queues. I am expecting worse tonight when I shall be going via Victoria and through Gatwick myself. I would never strike, I am a teacher and my pension is affected too.


    tweets: @BBC_HaveYourSay if there is enough money in the pot to give millionaires a 40 grand tax break, theres money for pensions..end of discussion


    tweets: @BBC_HaveYourSay private sector workers who feel the public sector get a better deal should aim their anger at their own bosses, not unions...Also, so we're all clear, public sector workers pay tax.

    1506: Holly Wallis BBC News

    says the rally at the Methodist Central Hall, in Westminster, London, is ending. Protesters listened to RMT leader Bob Crow and Unite's Len McCluskey, as well as representatives from the National Union of Teachers and the National Union of Students.

    James, in France,

    emails: "British workers get the worst deal in Western Europe?" Oh boy you should come and see Western Europe. Is 25% unemployment a model to aspire to? Pro-strike is all about "it's not fair" pro-cuts is about primary school mathematics. If you want no pension, sure strike for more. If you want any pension, play your part in repairing the UK.


    Keith Vaz, who chairs the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, says he will recall Tom Winsor, the former rail regulator who carried out a wide-ranging review of police pay and conditions, to give further evidence next month. Mr Vaz says this will give him an opportunity to put forward some of the concerns he has heard today.

    Martin, in Belfast:

    emails: Is good to see that a day of strikes by border controls, the Heathrow T3 is flowing smoothly. Maybe the border control could strike everyday.

    1515: Fiona Trott BBC News

    reports that Steve Gillan, general secretary of the Prison Officers Association, says the union's unlawful action was not brought to a close because of the threat of a court injunction.

    1518: Fiona Trott BBC News, Newcastle

    reports Mr Gillan as saying the threat of an injunction "didn't come into it." He added: "We'd much rather get the government round the table but we don't rule out further action in the future."

    Campaigns officer for PCS union, @JDinParticular,

    tweets: Serwotka "border staff cut to the bone and govt surprised when they can't cope" #m10 #pcs


    Guy Stoate, president of the University and College Union Wales says: "We're asking for the fair pensions that we've been promised over the last few decades. For the government to rip up these promises, without any genuine negotiations, has made our members very, very angry."

    Guardian columnist,

    tweets: Odd how the only public sector pensions not under threat are MPs' ones. Which are more diamond-encrusted than gold-plated.

    Daniel, Sunderland,

    texts: I wish people would open their eyes. The richest in this country have only gotten richer during the economic downturn- it is they that have caused this problem that should be paying for it, not the ordinary working person!

    Stephen Smith,

    on the BBC News Facebook page, comments: They have the right to strike, its the only power ordinary people have, I hope they bring this wretched pitiful excuse for a government to its knees


    Prison officers across Scotland end their strike and return to work. The action, which was over changes to public sector pensions, began at 06:00 BST.


    The Cabinet Office says 102,244 civil servants are on strike, which would be down from 146,000 in November and lower than trade union estimates.


    The Cabinet Office also says UK borders have been managed without delays.

    The Huffington post,

    blogs about police protest march. It reads: "The stream of officers took one-and-a-half hours to pass by the Home Office, booing as they went and leaving a sign saying: 'Policing by consent, established 1829, dismantled without consent 2012.'"

    1555: Dominic Casciani Home affairs correspondent

    Listen to Metropolitan Police officers talking about cuts.

    Patrick, a police officer in Grimsby,

    emails: I've had a pay freeze for two years in a row, the next two capped at 1%, 1.5% increase in pension contributions, 1% increase in national insurance in 2010 against 5% inflation. I've accepted this as necessary to reduce the country's debt but the attacks on my pay and conditions are continuing and showing no sign of abating.

    Kelly, in Hampshire,

    emails: My husband is a police constable. Our family life is very tricky due to 24/7, 365 days a year shifts and flexible childcare is non-existent. He loves his job but is very worried about these cuts. However, we're not naive to think there is enough money in the pot for every public sector worker on strike today.

    Keith from South Staffordshire

    texts: What type of government degrades public sector pensions on the basis that private sector pensions have been downsized? What measures will the government employ to assure workers in the private sector?

    1622: Dominic Casciani Home affairs correspondent

    tweets: Picture of the day - Love across the Divide... #policedemo

    Nick from Bournemouth

    texts: Surely the argument that public sector and trade unions are being attacked has been exhausted. The reason we are in this mess is because of a bloated and inefficient public sector coupled with the stranglehold the trade union have on industry.

    Mike, in Durham,

    emails: I'm a police officer. I'm tired of hearing about our 'gold plated' pensions. I pay over 12% of my pay into my pension and these contributions will increase further over the next two years. We have the highest contributions in the public sector. This is more about the dismantling of a police service that serves the community.

    1624: Norman Smith Chief political correspondent, BBC News Channel

    tweets: Take your pick. Govt say only 102,000 civil servants on strike. Down from 146,00 last time. PCS say more than 200,000 on #strike

    Robin Brant Political Correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: On illegal walkout by prison officers PMOS (prime minister's official spokesman) says 'we were aware it was a possibility this morning'.


    You can watch aerial footage of the march earlier by public sector workers over Westminster Bridge here.


    A TV interview with PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka is here, in which he claims the unions are "winning the argument" over the pensions changes and predicts industrial action will continue.

    Jules Mattsson, London

    tweets: Police line between #policedemo and protestors against police brutality, loud exchange of shouting between the two

    Dorset Police Federation chairman, Clive Chamberlain

    tweets: If ACPO are saying that level of cuts to #policing means they can't guarantee public safety - government really needs to listen


    Home Office minister Nick Herbert is interviewed here, and stresses the government's position that its public sector pensions offer is "an entirely fair one".

    1652: Dominic Casciani Home affairs correspondent

    Audioboo: Pc David Asher from Lincolnshire Police #policedemo

    1653: Richard Lister News correspondent

    suggests the protesters' slogan "68 is too late" reflects "perhaps the most controversial part of the government's pension reforms" - the possible rise in the pension age. "The question is particularly acute for those - like hospital porters, or MoD police officers and firefighters - who have jobs which can be very physically demanding."

    Alastair Hartm Aberdeen, Scotland

    The Government should bite the bullet now and move all public sector schemes to defined contributions now rather than expecting the tax payer to underwrite unspecified future liabilities of defined benefit schemes.

    Neil, Bromley, London

    texts: As a serving police officer of 25 years, I can honestly say I have never been treated so badly by the government. Never have I seen morale and conditions so poor. I voted this government in and wish I hadn't as they have stabbed us all in the back.

    1704: Richard Lister News correspondent

    says that while "this action has caused far less disruption than the November strike", the unions could unite over calls for a re-opening of pension negotiations. "This is a key moment for public sector workers as they assess how much pressure they can apply on the government - and whether there are any signs of cracks in ministers' position that the negotiations are over and there is no more money in the pot."


    Police Federation chairman Paul McKeever tells the BBC News Channel: "What we are saying is that the government, when it says it doesn't have choices, it does have choices - and it's chosen to divide the cake up in a way that it's chosen to do so. Overseas development, for example, will be a larger budget than policing at the end of this Comprehensive Spending Review period."


    On the BBC News Channel, Police Federation chairman Paul McKeever warns: "The only thing you are going to get with a cut of 20%, which is a huge cut compared with many other areas in the public sector... the only thing you are going to get more of, is more disorder, more crime and more antisocial behaviour. That's what the government is delivering - they have to listen."

    Kenny, a police officer from Dorset

    tweets: Today has been about many things for me. Our rights. Our self respect. And the frankly enormous number of bald colleagues I have.


    Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude puts the total number of public sector workers who joined strikes at "close to 150,000". That includes 102,244 civil servants confirmed to have walked out. The Public and Commercial Services union claims there is "general consensus that 400,000 workers were on strike".


    That concludes our minute-by-minute coverage of the public sector strike and police officers' rally. Our news story reflecting the most significant events of the day is here.


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