As it happened: Public sector strike action

Key Points

  • Hundreds of thousands of public sector workers in the UK have been taking part in strike action on Thursday
  • The action came as part of a series of disputes over pay, pensions and cuts
  • Teachers, firefighters, civil servants and local government workers have been involved, with hundreds of schools closed
  • Civil service minister Francis Maude said it was not right for members of the public to be inconvenienced, and claimed the unions' mandates for holding strike action were "weak"

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    Welcome to the BBC's live coverage of today's public sector strike action. We'll be following events during the day, during what trade unions claim will be the biggest mass walkout since 2011.


    More than a million workers are expected to take part in strike action. Full details on the background to the dispute can be found here.


    Schools are among the public services hit, with NUT members among the strikers. It is expected that thousands of pupils will miss lessons.


    Rallies and demonstrations are due to take place around the country, with large protests planned in London and Birmingham.


    Several different unions are taking part in today's strikes across the UK. For more information about who is going on strike and why, read our Q&A.


    Here's an early indication of how pupils are being affected by the action. In Surrey, there are 17 schools that are expected to be completely closed, with 32 partially closed.


    Education Secretary Michael Gove made a last-ditch appeal on Wednesday evening for teachers to reconsider their strike action ahead of the walkout.


    Joe Morgan, regional secretary of GMB Birmingham and West Midlands GMB, said no wagons had left Birmingham's fleet and waste management central depot this morning. As a result, bin services in the city will be affected, according to the union.


    Labour MP John McDonnell, chair of the PCS union parliamentary group, tweeted: "100% support and solidarity to all those striking today. The message of this strike is that people have had enough of pay freezes and cuts."


    The Green Party is supporting the strike, with MP Caroline Lucas expected to take part in a march in Brighton and party leader Natalie Bennett to join those marching in London.


    In Cornwall 51 schools are expected to be affected, with 20 completely closed


    Public sector and local government workers in Scotland are not striking - however, there is a strike of civil servants working for the Scottish Government. There are 28,000 civil servants in Scotland and the PCS union says it expects a substantial walkout.


    Somerset council predicts 15 schools will be closed with 13 partly open. Bath and North East Somerset expects seven to be closed and 17 partly open

    Dave Prentis

    Unison general secretary Dave Prentis told BBC Breakfast that more than 80% of the union's members were taking part in action. "Today is about low-paid workers who cannot make ends meet," he said, adding they had decided that "enough is enough".


    In Northern Ireland, libraries, leisure centres, housing executive officers and other council-run premises - including Belfast Zoo - are expected to be closed today.


    Across London, about 600 schools are predicted be either closed or partially closed today for the strike action - with figures for several boroughs not yet known.


    More predictions of school closures in the south-east: More than 50 schools in East Sussex will be closed; five will be shut in Kent with nine 9 partially closed; one closure and one partial closure in West Sussex.


    Here's a rundown of those expected to be taking part in strike action today and their reasons why:

    • Firefighters - in a row over pensions and retirement age
    • The PCS Union - in a dispute over pay, job cuts, pensions and the privatisation of services
    • Unison - in a row over this year's pay offer
    • Unite members - who have also dismissed the pay offer
    • The NUT - in a row over pay, pensions, workload pressure and conditions
    • Members of the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance - striking over pay
    • RMT members working for Transport for London - striking over pay and pensions.

    Hundreds of schools in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire are expected to be either partially or fully closed. These include:

    • More than 100 schools in East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire
    • A total of 105 schools in Bradford
    • The Leeds area has 146 schools affected
    • In York, 22 schools fully or partially closed
    • North Yorkshire has 15 schools closed and 42 partially closed.

    Some more on school closures - councils in Shropshire say 12 schools are fully closed today and about 20 are partially closed.

    07:22: James Blackwell, Head Teacher

    emails: I am a Head Teacher of a large primary school in Greater Manchester and we will not be on strike today. We completely agree with the reasons for the strike. However, many of my staff just can't afford to lose a day's pay! We serve the most deprived in the community and are very dedicated to our work; however, we strongly feel that Mr Gove needs to stop masking the issues, placing blame, and recognise the pressures his government has placed on schools with their reforms and pay restrictions.

    Francis Maude

    Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude has just been speaking to BBC Breakfast. He described the mandates as "weak, and in the case of the NUT, out of date".


    Brighton and Hove City Council: 15 secondary and special schools will be closed. More than 50 primary schools will close. Medway Council says 3 schools will close and 5 will be partially closed (this does not include Academies)


    Mr Maude added of the unions: "I understand their frustration, but I regret that they have called their members out on strike." He said it was not right that members of the public would be "inconvenienced" today.

    07:25: Karl Alexander

    emails: People should spare a thought for the Armed Forces who are also suffering the effects of pay freezes and below inflation pay rises, but we have no voice, can't strike and WOULDN'T strike.

    07:27: Wolf Kettler

    emails: I am not a public sector worker but I fully support the strike. The country would grind to a halt without public sector services and we all benefit so much from public sector workers' hard work. It is time that we began to appreciate their work, treat them with respect and paid them a decent wage.


    BBC South West reporter Alison Johns tweets: "No Torpoint Ferries because of strike. @tamarcrossing will update at 1400 but says unlikely to run after that either."


    It's thought about 70,000 public sector workers in Wales are joining the one-day strike, but local authorities say they expect "minimal" disruption.

    07:37: Jon, Fireman

    emails: I am a fire-fighter and will be striking today. If I retire at 55 (which I pay 14.7% into my pension for) I now stand to lose 47% of my pension. If I retire at 60 I get a worse deal than I signed up for and pay a lot more for the privilege! I stand to lose £300 a month compared to the contract I signed 14 years ago. How is this fair or legal? Plus a 1% pay rise and 3% pension that not a pay cut? Honour the deal I signed or at least give the English and Welsh fire fighters the same deal as the Scottish and Irish.

    Posters outside a school in Gateshead

    Posters have been put up at a picket line outside this school in Gateshead. One of its teachers told the BBC that the main issue was workload. "Teachers are working harder and longer than they have ever worked... and that's unsustainable," he said.

    07:40: Ansley Taylor

    emails: I'm a self employed tradesman and my wage is still 19-25% lower than pre 2007 years. My pension is diabolical. So to say public sector workers are striking is atrocious. Get real!! Economy getting better but still very fragile and it's still too hard to get a mortgage. Government's move to cool property market is wrong - they must increase housing provision so the economy stays on course!

    Strikers at Shirehall, Shropshire

    Here's the scene at Shropshire Council's Shirehall headquarters, where Unison members are gathering to protest against pay cuts.


    More school closures - there are 49 closed or partially closed in Walsall, out of 128 in the borough.


    Birmingham City Council has not published a list of schools that are shut today, but at least nine are known to be affected.

    07:52: Rowena Sales, Teacher

    emails: I am a member of the NUT who is striking today. Over the last ten years teachers have had a pay cut in real terms every year as our payrises fail to keep up with inflation and the cost of living. Added to this pension cuts, massive increase in work load and increasing pressure for results which don't take into account the pupils in front of us. What makes me most angry is the government's attacks on our right to strike. It is the only form of protest available to us and people fought and died for it. As for the Prime Minister reforming ballot laws? I find this very rich coming from the leader of a party in power with just over a third of votes from the two thirds of the electorate who could be bothered to vote, or indeed weren't turned away from ballot stations. I will continue to support my union and members of other unions who are fighting against the degradation of standards by this government.


    A Cabinet Office spokesman says: "The vast majority of dedicated public sector workers did not vote for today's action, and early indications are that most are turning up for work as usual.

    "We have rigorous contingency plans in place, services appear to be working well and we expect most schools and Jobcentres to open their doors."


    Social worker Glenn Williams, a Unison representative in Merseyside, told BBC Radio 5 live low-paid workers want a fair wage.

    He said: "The financial mess that the country, and potentially the world, is in is not the responsibility of low-paid classroom and nursery assistants, cooks, cleaners, social workers, etc."


    Unison branch secretary Alan James is one of those picketing at Shropshire Council's Shrewsbury headquarters. He tells the BBC that some staff are having to rely on food banks.


    If you have your driving test booked for today, you should still turn up - despite some driving examiners saying they were going to take strike action. The Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency says it is trying to make sure tests go ahead as planned.


    The latest from south-west England is that about 40 Cornwall schools are closed or partially closed and 13 Devon County Council-run schools are closed or partially closed.

    08:15: Rob, ex-policeman

    emails: I worked loyally for the police as a public sector worker for 16 years. I am also a military veteran. I also did the right thing and served as a special constable for 14 years, doing the right thing in Cameron's so called big society...Some I work with are dependent on food Bank handouts but still work long hours and are still loyal to the people they serve in the communities, when all we face is constant attack by this government. I am sickened by witnessing colleagues crying at their desks over mounting work loads and stress, caused by continual staff-cuts and bosses who look after their own interests to the detriment of the poorly paid staff who actually do the work. We continually try to serve the public and to keep them safe, and yet we see MPs getting 11% pay increases and mocking public sector workers through their continual attacks on their conditions. I am ashamed to have served my country, ashamed of being a Police Officer, and ashamed of this government and Home Secretary who are out of touch with the realities of the pain they have caused us.

    Derby picket as part of national strikes

    Rob Watts, from BBC Radio Derby, says: "Here's one of the picket lines in Derby, outside the city council's Streetpride depot on Stores Road."


    More schools news. Coventry and Warwickshire have 55 full closures and about 50 partial closures, Worcestershire has five full and 19 partial closures, Staffordshire has 24 full and 12 partial closures while in Stoke there are 22 schools closed and 12 partially closed.

    Strikers in Birmingham

    Kath Stanczyszyn, political reporter for BBC WM, says: "I'm at a GMB picket line at central waste management on Montague Street in Birmingham.

    "One worker, Jimmy, tells me: 'We're here because we don't think we're getting a good deal from the government. We haven't had a pay rise in four years, we've had a three-year pay freeze - all the overtime has stopped. We want a fair deal.'"

    08:21: Mark

    emails: Today I strike, reluctantly, because our public services are under attack. I forgo my wages for today, and have to top up my pension out of my own pocket to take strike action. The 1% pay offer is part of the denigration of conditions of work to bring us down to the level of pay and conditions prevalent in the private sector. If we genuinely want fairness across the market then pay in the private sector should be raised accordingly, not conditions cut elsewhere. We have seen a deliberate starving of local authorities, not for reasons of austerity, but to enable ideological shrinking of what local authorities provide. By withdrawing our labour today I hope the general public wake up to what they are losing. Yes, I'm sorry for your inconvenience, but unless you start fighting for your public services, you will find yourself permanently inconvenienced, as these services are under threat. Once they are gone, they are gone. I cannot see any mainstream party having the will to reintroduce them again...

    08:23: Elle, Teaching support staff

    emails: I am in full support of all those striking today, although as support staff and a member of ATL, I will not be striking today, and will be going to work, along with many thousands of support staff, many of which, like myself, simply cannot afford to lose a day's pay despite being in full support of the strike. Unfortunately for many of us, we continue to be affected by salaries that do not come close to reflecting the cost of living in the UK, now, or over the past few years. I fully believe that if the current climate in education continues, that of pressure, large workloads and poor pay, the government will find that schools will lose some of their most engaging, inspiring and hard-working staff, both in teaching & support, and eventually the quality of education in this country will start to decline, at the expense of our future generations.

    Strike in Coventry

    Here's the scene at the Whitley depot in Coventry, where Hayden Jones, a bin lorry driver who is on strike says: "I'm finding it extremely difficult to survive. We're suffering... we can't even afford to have dental care. Is that acceptable for a man that goes out working full time to set an example to his children that I can't even bring a decent wage home?"


    Jonathan Eatough, assistant director at Telford and Wrekin Council, told BBC Radio Shropshire: "Most people will get what they want (from council services) today, but it might take a bit longer than usual.

    "The planning's worked, and most services have some form of cover. So if it's your bin day, put your bin out as usual"


    In Derbyshire and East Staffordshire, more than 50 schools are closed today because of the national strike.

    Cornwall picket

    BBC Radio Cornwall's Tamsin Melville took this picture, showing the scene outside County Hall in Truro.

    08:33: Alison Prichard, Senior Staff Nurse

    emails: I am a healthcare worker, a Senior Staff nurse in an NHS hospital and a member of Unison. I am not striking and would not strike as I am a nurse but I FULLY AGREE with what they are striking about. Our pay has decreased in real terms due to inflation. Not only has it not kept up with inflation it has fallen behind by a long way. We have less opportunity to increase our pay in Nursing unless you want to go into management so there are a lot of nurses staying on the same pay band year after year as the years go by and if it falls behind inflation then they receive loads less in real terms while costs have escalated upwards. We are far worse off than we were 3 years ago. Our pay rise of 1% was not enough especially as our pension contributions increased by 1% at the same time!

    08:33: Kate, Council Worker

    emails: I work at East Sussex county council and will be on strike today in protest at the paltry pay offer after 3 years pay-freeze and for my colleagues at the bottom of the pay scale for whom the minimum wage is not a living wage. As a single parent of 3 boys I support the teachers strike and will be taking my children on the march and rally in Brighton this morning.

    PCS pickets in Barnsley

    BBC Radio Sheffield's Andy Kershaw tweets this picture of the PCS picket at John Rideal House in Barnsley.

    08:37: Russ, Public Sector Worker

    emails: I am a public sector union member, but I also work for a department providing a critical service to the elderly and infirm. We save lives in what we do, so I can't justify taking a day off and risking one of our service users dying over this pay dispute. I'm in work ensuring that those in need get the support they require. While I support the strike and think the pay offer by my local council is feeble and below inflation, I still feel that my job is important, and that I should be supporting those most in need in our society.

    08:38: Jeremy Donovan

    emails: Why is it that public sector workers feel that they need to strike? The service is unsustainable with high pay and pensions. Most employers will put in a small percentage to the pension but these employers are expected to put in 2015 to 20%. Public sector workers should wake up and smell the coffee. Also pay rises are still not being received as a right in the private sector so why should the public sector workers be entitled to rises?!

    Strikers in Gateshead

    BBC reporter Dan Johnson tweets this picture of teachers on the picket line at Charles Thorpe Comprehensive in Gateshead.

    08:43: Helen Clarke, NHS Worker

    emails: I have worked in the NHS for twenty years. I have also supported the Conservative party during that time but I am becoming increasingly disillusioned with both. I haven't had a pay rise for four years and will not receive the 1% this year. Meanwhile the cost of living over that time has risen significantly. I am noticeably worse off than any point during my working career. I do not agree with strike action but come on people, you all rely on your Public Servants. Support us!


    There are some 450 school closures confirmed in the north east of England and Cumbria at the moment.

    08:47: Chris

    emails: I'm going to strike and proud of it. I've been on a 3 year pay-freeze and now been offered just 1% which equates to 7p an hour. Meanwhile ministers have awarded themselves 11% plus expenses and say they deserve it. Well I deserve it too along with everyone else in the public sector. Instead of criticising us for strike action they should look at the reasons why it was necessary in the first place.


    The East Midlands has about 240 partially or fully closed schools according to the region's local councils.

    08:52: Sean Taylor

    emails: The sheer double standards of the government. Public sector workers have a right to strike yet Cameron proposes to restrict this right unless a majority of members back the strike in a ballot. Yet he is perfectly happy to govern, despite a general election turnout of approximately 71%, from which he didn't get a clear majority, with approximately 40% voting conservative. Therefore his mandate is very shaky too. 29% of those eligible to vote failed to vote and of those who voted, 60% did not choose him! Will he tighten up the unfairness of our electoral system which allows this anomaly to happen?

    Strikers in Leicestershire

    Here's the scene at Unite's picket line outside one of Leicester City Council's offices off Uppingham Road in the city.

    More people are expected in Town Hall square later today when all the unions join together to protest in the city centre.


    In Leicester, the strike action has led to the closure of adult social care centres, galleries, museums and leisure centres across the city as well as many council offices.

    09:00: Jon

    emails: I work for the public sector, I live in the North East of the UK. We have had a pay-freeze which equates to a pay-cut. Private sector workers tell me that we should be happy to have a job. Don't let this government drive down the wage in this country, there are lots of public sector workers wages that support the high street, builders, farm workers, car manufacturers, plumbers etc . We only ask for what is fair. Mr Cameron forgets how his government came to power, talking of reforming the unions' strike rights. We should be raising the minimum wage, not driving workers wages down to the minimum.

    09:00: Sharon Taylor

    emails: I am striking today. I'm not happy at losing a day's pay of course but we all have bigger fish to fry here. David Cameron has condemned the strike but of course he has to, but how easy is it for him to do that when he's on a huge wage? This is about survival for all us hard workers trying to stretch out wages thinner and thinner to make ends meet and feed our families, something he will never experience.


    Defence Procurement Minister Philip Dunne told BBC Radio Shropshire: "Everyone in the public sector has got to take their share in the very challenging times we're living through in the public finances."

    He said he agreed with the prime minister's plans for tighter rules on calling strikes and added: "If you look at the National Union of Teachers, they had a ballot nearly two years ago which they're using to justify this strike action - a ballot in which only about 27% participated."

    A dog on a picket line in Taunton

    Ruth Bradley, BBC Somerset reporter, has taken this picture of a dog called Milly on a picket line at County Hall in Taunton, Somerset.


    Mark Spencer, Conservative MP for Sherwood in Nottinghamshire, has sympathy for those affected by the disruption caused by the strikes.

    "It's a real shame, not only for politics but for working families - people who have to take a day off work because their kids won't be able to go to school and people running businesses and trying to engage with the public sector," he says.


    The Humber Bridge is currently toll-free in both directions for motorists owing to staff being on strike.


    Ed Finch, head of Larkrise Primary School in Oxford and a member of the NUT, tells BBC News that, as a parent, he feels awful about closing his school.

    However, Mr Finch says he will "only stop when Michael Gove has listened to union leaders". He said he had been visited recently by a number of parents who told him they supported the teachers' decision to strike, which he described as "very moving".


    Cabinet Office spokesman tells Press Association: "The vast majority of dedicated public sector workers did not vote for today's action, and early indications are that most are turning up for work as usual.

    "In the civil service we estimate that fewer than 90,000 members of the PCS union will not be working - this is lower than previous strike action, and just a fifth of the civil service workforce"

    09:31: Barry Pinkney

    emails: I am sick of this group of strikers, they should think themselves lucky to be in work, I worked for a company for 35 years under pressure and I did not retire until I was 67. I never feel too old to do a high pressure job, so get back to work and think yourself lucky!


    Lesley Bates got in touch with BBC Local Live in Derby to give her views on the strike, saying: "If this is how they expect to gain support they're going about it the wrong way. Causing delays for hundreds of workers."

    09:39: Nikki Sawtell

    emails: I am on strike today. I work for the Department of Work and Pensions, I am an ESA Dispute Resolution Officer, I have worked for the department for over 25 years. I used to think I earned a decent wage but over the past few years I have seen this diminish and diminish to the point that I struggle every day to make ends meet for my family. I work just as hard as I ever did, my job is no less stressful, but I can't even afford a decent holiday, my kids are lucky if we go camping for a week. Sometimes I think I would be better off claiming the benefit I administrate, at least then I would get to spend time with the family I struggle so hard to support.

    Teachers on strike in Birmingham

    These teachers are picketing outside Hamstead Hall Academy in Birmingham.

    09:40: Madzz Ellis, Brighton

    emails: The strikers are trying to say that their pay doesn't meet the minimum living standard and their pay has not risen to meet the cot of living. They should all try and take up jobs in the private sector. Striking doesn't work, you get replaced by someone who actually wants the job and the pay being offered. A lot of jobs I've worked in pay less than bin men, teachers etc. But in this day and age, I'm just happy to actually have a job. Which is now going to be disrupted by greed.

    09:41: Pauline, PCS Union Member

    emails: I am a member of the PCS union. I am not on strike - I can't afford to take a day's unpaid leave. I do agree with the reasons for the strike regarding the 1% pay-cap, but I don't agree with the pensions argument.

    09:48: Dawn, Public Sector Worker

    emails: I work in the public sector and I am being forced to take a day off work. I rely on a holiday club to take care of my kids but it is closed due to the strike. I disagree whole-heartedly with the strike and do not wish to be associated with it. I am a working single parent who can ill afford to lose a day's pay. The unions are showing yet again they don't care about the consequences of their actions. They are so concerned with their own finances they do not give a thought to other people and that other people may not share their views. Do you think the union bosses will be losing a day's pay? They should be glad they are not on zero hours contracts as many private sector workers are.


    We've heard about hundreds of schools closing their doors for the day - here's what the Department for Education says about the strike action.

    "There is no justification for further strikes," a spokeswoman said. "The unions asked for talks, we agreed to their request and talks are ongoing."


    The DfE spokeswoman added: "These strikes will only disrupt parents' lives, hold back children's education and damage the reputation of the profession."

    Public sector workers outside the Houses of Parliament

    Public sector workers on strike are gathering in central London - members of Unison are seen here walking past the Houses of Parliament.

    09:58: Iola, Local Council Worker

    emails: I work for my local council. Not only have we only had one pay increase (of 1%) in the last 4 years, but incremental pay increases also stopped 4 years ago meaning I am earning over 3k less than my colleague who has been in the job longer and is on the top of the grade, but we do the same work. In addition to this, cuts to funding mean I am now trying to do the work of 3 people as jobs have been deleted because there is no money.

    Strikers outside the Houses of Parliament

    Members of the PCS union are assembling at the Houses of Parliament too.


    Chichester District Council in West Sussex tweets: "Unison is encouraging its members to strike today. None of our services have been severely disrupted and they are running normally."


    Deborah Lawson, general secretary of education professionals' union Voice, tells The Daily Telegraph it is "the cardinal rule" of the union that they do not strike.

    She says: "There is little difference between what we, the NUT and other teaching unions have as concerns. The difference is how we go about resolving this. We will always take the route of negotiation and compromise."

    10:03: Col, Birmingham

    emails: Been busy reading the comments sent in by public sector workers about workloads, pay and pensions. Do these people have any idea what goes on in the private sector?! Excruciating workloads, minimum wage pay below the living wage and no private pension, let alone a final salary one! I think it's time they realised how lucky they are!

    Strikers at Telford and Wrekin Council

    These strikers are at Telford & Wrekin Council's offices at Granville House, Telford. Nigel Neat, from the Telford branch of Unison, said: "My wife is in the public sector - she's a teaching assistant and lunchtime supervisor. Two low-paid jobs to make ends meet."

    10:07: Barry, Social Worker

    emails: I'm a Social Worker in the North east of England. I am currently on strike today - something I've never done before and to be honest did not want to, however I have out of principle. I love my job, however a 1% payrise means my money has to go further each month which is becoming increasingly difficult.


    Some closures in Leicester have been tweeted by Leicester Museums. They say: "Due to industrial action New Walk Museum and The Guildhall are closed today. Apologies for any inconvenience caused."

    10:10: Emma, School Worker

    emails: I'm striking to improve pay and conditions for all school support workers. Staff, and the children they support, deserve a better deal.


    Mark Garnier, Conservative MP for Wyre Forest, says politicians are on "slightly dodgy ground" criticising the overall numbers of union members backing strike action, with a turnout of just 65% at the last general election, 30% in district council elections and just 15% in police and crime commissioner elections.


    Despite that, Mr Garnier said the government had been forced to take action over public sector pay.

    "It's not sustainable trying to run a government costing 15% more than we can afford every year. These are debts that are being passed on to the next generation."

    10:22: Neil, Police Officer

    emails: As a Police Officer I cannot strike. I have 17 years service, and upon joining the force was "told" to join the pension as it was the best you could get, and although we paid a high percentage of our salary compared to many other occupations it was good value and reward for 30 years service to your country. Now my contributions are even higher after the government changed legislation to increase contributions and offer less in return. I too had pay cuts in relative terms... It will all end very badly, morale is terrible, officers of considerable experience are leaving the job, members of the public do not receive the police response they expect but the government insist the police will achieve more with less!! The list of reforms is endless, and none of them will work to providing a better service to the public.

    A firefighter on strike in Newcastle

    In Newcastle, firefighter Grant is one of the FBU members on strike. He tells the BBC he wants a fair pension.

    "Morale is understandably low. We spend our working lives risking our lives to save other people's lives," he said. "We do feel as though we're being unfairly treated."

    Hereford library strikers

    Librarians have also gone on strike, with these Hereford Library staff picketing this morning.

    Library assistant Helen Astley said: "Our equipment is so outdated. It's not just about our pay and conditions, which are woefully different to what they were just a few years ago, it's that the service we're providing to the public isn't up to scratch and we really care about that."

    10:29: Phip Woodhatch

    emails: I am fed up with public sector workers feeling hard done by and thinking striking is the right way to air their grievances. I am a manager in a private sector company. I have not had a pay rise for 7 years. I am working longer hours with increasing pressure on my department to streamline and cut overheads. Our company has not replaced staff who have left, we have seen budgets squeezed as we try to remain competitive but still stay solvent. I would love a pay rise as the cost of living has impacted us all, however, in both public and private sectors, if the money is not there, we cannot expect pay-rises. Throwing your toys out of the pram is not the correct way to deal with things, and it doesn't change the bottom line.

    10:33: Terry Robinson, Teesside

    emails: If I take my child out of school in term-time I will be fined £60, they use the excuse that it affects my child's education, who fines the teachers for taking time off to strike? Surely this affects my child's education? One rule for one and one rule for another. Sack the lot of them.

    10:37: John, Leeds

    emails: I'm striking today because my local government pay has fallen in value by 20% and it's going to get worse. I'm doing the work of other people as my colleagues lose their jobs.

    British Library

    The British Library says its reading rooms are open today - apart from maps, rare books and music - despite members of the PCS at the library taking part in the industrial action.

    10:39: Graham, Morecambe

    emails: My Kids school is closed today, with teachers telling the class that it's for 'the future of education'. This is wrong. As a private sector worker I have had had to endure a pay-freeze and have seen many colleagues made redundant. If I am unhappy with my pay or T&Cs, I have to look for another job. Why should the public sector be any different?

    Firefighters in Leeds on strike

    Members of the FBU at Leeds Fire Station are also taking part in the action.


    PCS representative Neil Seepujak has been on a picket line in Leeds since 7am, where he said strikers have been receiving hoots of support from passing drivers.

    He says: "There are still thousands of civil servants below the living wage and the government is not getting round the table for meaningful discussions on this issue."


    James Sproule, head of policy at the Institute of Directors, tells BBC Radio 5 Live that public sector pay "is actually better than private sector pay" and that those striking "are much more interested in their own pay and conditions" than adjusting to economic conditions.

    10:53: James

    emails: I think someone has to remind the public sector workers that they have never had it so good - They have a pension, most of us working for private business do not and if we do then it's way down on what the public sector is getting. They are getting a 1% wage rise. Tell us private sector workers what that is like please, as some of us haven't had one in the past few years.

    10:56: Chevri,

    emails: Most people are not going in to work at Rotherham Jobcentre today, less than 10% of the 150 workforce have turned up. The other two offices in our area have closed. People really have had enough.

    Gillian Whittaker of the GMB

    Gillian Whittaker of the GMB, speaking in Birmingham, told the BBC: "Our members have not had a decent pay rise in four years."

    She adds that many members are "struggling on a day-to-day basis on the minimum wage".

    Strikers in Wolverhampton

    It's estimated there are some 150 people now picketing outside Wolverhampton Civic Centre. Members of Unison, the NUT, the FBU and Wolverhampton Bilston and District Trades Union Council are present.


    Jane Ceresa, deputy chair of Wolverhampton's Unison branch, said of claims that there had been a poor mandate for today's action: "I suspect the percentage of union members who voted for today's action was similar to that which voted for the current Government, if not better. People in glass houses should not throw stones."

    11:05: Alison

    emails: I am a member of Unison and I am on strike, but many colleagues have gone to work today. Not because they disagree with the strike nor because they agree with the pay offer, but because they haven't time to strike, we carry large caseloads and truly care about the work we do. I am grateful to colleagues who are holding the fort today.

    11:08: Richard Walker, Buxton

    emails: Get on with your jobs! The average wage in the public sector is a quarter more than the same job in the private sector, you risk alienating yourselves as most won't support you.


    Mr Sproule of the Institute of Directors rejected claims that bankers caused the economic crisis and should shoulder the burden of recovery instead of public sector workers.

    He tells BBC Radio 5 Live: "I think it would be extremely wrong to say if only we could tax the bankers more our problems would go away."

    11:18: TM, Teacher in Wales

    emails: I am currently a teacher in Wales and I am on strike today. Why? I have several concerns about the way teachers are treated, not just by the government, but people's general attitude towards teachers, which subsequently, impacts on our pay, pension and life. Firstly, as much as I enjoy the teaching side of the job, the quantity of paperwork and additional tasks that we have to carry out in our own time is getting out of hand...Additionally, and more obviously, it is a strike. It is meant to be inconvenient. It is meant to demonstrate how much we do and how much our commitment to the children is being exploited by the government and others.


    Neil Carberry, CBI director for employment and skills, has been commenting on the strikes.

    He says: "This strike action will cause disruption across the country and businesses will need to take a common sense approach to managing their workforce, particularly in the case of parents."


    Mr Carberry adds: "The main focus should be on ending the dispute, and there always needs to be a clear mandate from members for a strike given the disruption they can cause the public and businesses.

    "We believe that for any strike to go ahead, there should be a higher threshold on votes so that strikes cannot be called on small turnouts."

    11:23: Public Sector Worker

    emails: I work in an IT department and my role in the private sector is 20k more than I get. On top of that my boss has blocked my annual increment so I will have to survive on the paltry pay rise which won't even cover the increase in train fares. I have been trying to get back into the private sector but seem to be tarred with the reputation of public sector.

    Strikers in Bristol

    There are about 200 people who have gathered for a rally on College Green, Bristol, says BBC News online reporter Kate Wakefield. They are carrying flags, banners and signs featuring slogans including "let teachers teach" and "Govebusters".

    11:25: Dean Powell, Public Sector Worker

    emails: I am on strike and believe that now is the time to confront and challenge this Conservative led government on pay and conditions. Public sector workers are covering the work and case loads of those workers who have lost their jobs since the coalition formed. There are many social workers and others working late into the evenings and at weekends who are not paid overtime. There are many pubic sector workers using their own cars as part of their work who do not get any allowance for maintenance owing to high mileage. As for politicians they need to know, to understand and recognise that we have the democratic right to strike and protest. We will not be silenced or suppressed.


    Many of those taking part in the industrial action are now on the move, with rallies taking place across the UK. In Coventry, there are about 500 people marching through the city centre.

    11:37: Breaking News
    Public sector workers in Newcastle

    Workers from several different unions are also marching through Newcastle city centre.

    11:43: Michelle Knight, Public

    emails: I am on strike. When people reach the state where they can not afford their mortgages and they are better off on benefits than working, you have to wonder what definition of, "fair, " the government are trying to apply. Three years of pay freeze one year of 1%, the private sector are recovering, councils putting money in to reserve accounts and still the government expect workers to take another year at 1%. People are struggling to pay for food and heating, for crying out loud. Grateful to have a job? What joke is this?

    Strikers in Newcastle

    Here's another view of the strikers in Newcastle, showing the scale of the demonstration.

    GMB strikers in Brighton

    Public sector workers, including members of the GMB union, are marching through the streets of Brighton.


    Kevin Courtney of the NUT warned there is "a huge teacher shortage coming", with thousands of teachers leaving the profession after being faced with increasing levels of bureaucracy.


    But in reply to claims of a teacher shortage, the Department for Education said: "There are more teachers in schools than ever before, with a rise of 9,000 in the last year. Teaching has never been a more attractive career path.

    "With this mind, we would be keen to see how Kevin Courtney or anyone from the NUT substantiate their top line that this strike is to prevent a teacher shortage."

    11:55: Anna

    emails: I am striking today not just because of pay or pensions, I am striking because of the detrimental effects cuts and policy changes are having on our children... Changes in the curriculum mean that children must fit into studying what is best for the school league table place rather than what is best for the individual child.... Funding for professional development for teachers, has been slashed, leaving vulnerable students without the support in class they need to be able to access the lesson. Teachers are left working 60 hours a week, teaching in run-down classes, without suitable resources, without support, and all for the same pay I would get if I sat in an office 35 hours a week. Today I am losing a day's pay. I am striking because I want the best opportunities for MY children and the current government is utterly unwilling to provide that.

    11:56: Jane Brown, Devon

    emails: I am not striking today because I have no job left to strike from! I have some freelance work, which I shall do if the school is open, and because I am preparing children for a performance to parents next week. As well as pay-freezes, pension contribution increases (paired with reduced returns and later retirement dates), the current education changes are totally demoralising teachers and putting pay and conditions before the children. Striking is for most of us a last resort - we still have bills to pay and losing a day's pay is not trivial. In the last three years, I have seen little effort from the government to negotiate, but a determined effort to break the unions and all the collectively negotiated pay and conditions. There are few schools closed in Torbay today, and this is because teachers are afraid of retribution from the new powers academy heads have.

    12:04: Breaking News
    Strikers in London

    Police estimate 1,500 people gathered in central London, near the BBC's New Broadcasting House before marching to Trafalgar Square.

    NUT demonstrators

    Some demonstrators from the NUT have brought along an inflatable pair of scissors to show how they feel about cuts.

    12:08: Nico, Private Sector Worker

    emails: I work in the private sector, I am pleased the pubic sector is on strike today, I hope they can send the message out that we all need an increase in wages. Life is getting harder and harder, for all workers, including the private sector ones, unfortunately as in a private sector job I can't raise my voice to say what I think! I hope the private sector will hear us today through the pubic sector strike. They have all my support for today strike.

    Kate Williams from Mumsnet

    Kate Williams from Mumsnet said that while some parents are sympathetic, the strike has been disruptive for many. "There are mixed feelings," she told the BBC. "I think parents really want it to be resolved as soon as possible."

    12:09: Karen, Civil Servant

    email: I am a civil servant currently having lunch at work. I have not gone out on strike for two reasons. 1. I do not believe it achieves anything. We have been out on numerous occasions and still receive little in pay rises. 2. I am in a catch 22. My partner (also a civil servant) and I simply cannot afford to loose the pay. We earn just enough over the threshold to receive any help but not enough to live on comfortably. We cover the bills and essentials but family activities (like going swimming with our child) are few and far between. I believe that regardless of whether you are private sector or public sector we are all struggling in this financial climate. A strike is not going to achieve what we need.


    The Cabinet Office says a fifth of civil servants, fewer than 90,000, are on strike.

    12:12: Breaking News

    Cabinet Office spokesman says the number of strikers is down compared with the strike action in March 2013: "All 717 jobcentres opened this morning, the majority of schools in England and Wales are open, fire services are operating across the country and nationally, disruption to local government services is minimal."

    12:17: Maria Boys, Lollypop Lady

    emails: I am a Lollypop Lady and have joined the strike today. The pay offer is nowhere near enough - I don't think it unreasonable to want £7 per hour, bearing in mind how everything we need is constantly going up. Our neighbouring council is already paying £1.10 per hour more for the same work, but the travelling expenses makes it not worth switching jobs. I would like to see all councils adopt a living wage of at least £7 per hour.


    Heathrow warns passengers they may experience delays going through immigration due to strike action by some of its Border Force employees which are members of the PCS union, but is not advising travellers to change their plans.

    Strikers in Leicester

    More than 1,000 people are estimated to be taking part in a march in Leicester. They are heading to Town Hall square for a rally against government cuts.

    12:20: Andrew Brignell, Hull

    emails: I am having to take a day off work today to pander to the unrealistic aspirations of a minority of teachers. For an organised group that purports to represent a profession that is supposed to place the education of children at its core this is hypocrisy. Do teachers really think they are generating any sympathy from the public as a whole? If they do then they must be even more deluded than most people think they are.

    Strikers in Birmingham

    The strike rally in Birmingham city centre has live music, with horns and chanting adding to the noise.

    12:21: J Palfreyman

    emails: I have worked for the public sector and now work for a not for profit organisation, but I still have family working in the civil service. They have been pushed to the limit with staff cuts, had their places of work closed and moved, forcing them into exhaustingly long commutes. They've lost holiday accumulated over years of service and they've had their pay frozen despite the fact their workload has increased. A 1% pay rise alongside a 1% or higher increase in pension contributions is an insult. All this goes for other public sector workers too. How dare we expect people to do more for less and then ridicule them for showing some backbone and standing up for their rights?

    12:23: David

    emails: As a teacher I can no longer afford to eat properly. Gove has promised to look at the whole appalling situation of teacher salaries, pensions and working conditions, he has done nothing... I have to rent as I will never be able to afford even the smallest home of my own - anywhere in the country wherever I happen to be a teacher. I am exhausted from the pressure of work and wondering how to make ends meet. The whole system is crumbling with increasing numbers leaving the profession. Yet I walk through the City of London and see all the wealthy bankers and city workers sitting in their expensive cafes at lunchtimes. I can't afford to even buy a cup of coffee from such places! I will quit unless something urgent is done.

    Firefighters protest

    Family members have joined members of the FBU outside Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service's headquarters. The service said it would respond to any emergencies - but warned it could take longer than normal.

    12:23: Michele, Leeds

    emails: I am on strike today as we absorb the staff cuts and have put up with pay-freezes, then an insult of a 1% rise. We work as a team to ensure that things like the Tour de France go off well and then go back to feeling worthless when it's done. There is no concern for staff from employers anymore.


    Retired factory worker Stan Davies, 78, from Wolverhampton told the BBC he resented today's industrial action.

    He said: "The strikers seem to justify themselves but everybody is having to make sacrifices at the moment. Everything is more expensive. Maybe they just think they're better than everyone else."

    FBU members

    Here are some of the FBU members taking part in the central London rally, part of the 1,500-strong group heading to Trafalgar Square.

    Strikers in Liverpool

    In Liverpool, a large group of public sector workers set off from the pierhead to march through the city.


    Here's what people in Coventry have been saying.

    Michael Byrne, an administration worker for Coventry City Council: "In Coventry, manufacturing jobs were decimated and the public sector took over, now that's being destroyed. It's a strong working class city and we're being attacked from all sides."


    But Lisa Paynter from Warwick, who has a five-year-old daughter, said: "I'm disappointed her school is closed. I never support strikes, there are other ways to voice opinions without causing disruption to society."


    Lesley Criminisi, a teacher from Coventry, said: "I'm sorry for the inconvenience to parents but I believe they want skilled people teaching their children.

    "I don't like the reduction in training and the use of unskilled, low-paid people in classrooms and don't think parents want that either."

    Strikers in Plymouth

    Plymouth has also seen crowds of union members join together to demonstrate.

    12:44: Peter, Council Worker

    emails: I work at Leeds City Council. Unison representatives based outside Civic hall are very aggressive. They are currently taking photos of people crossing the picket line and shouting insults at staff. Hard to support a strike when the strikers can only use insults because they lack arguments. They have no moral high ground.

    Dominic MacAskill of Unison

    Dominic MacAskill, head of local government for Unison in Wales, said at least 70,000 people were striking in Wales. He said of disruption caused by the industrial action: "It's unfortunate, but sometimes you only appreciate the services you receive when they're no longer there."

    FBU workers on strike in Portmouth FBU workers join public sector strikes in Portsmouth

    The Fire Brigades Union joins public sector strikes in Portsmouth.

    12:45: Dave

    emails: I work as school support, we only get paid for 46 weeks a year and at the lowest pay scale, you would not get Private sector workers working on our slave wage. On average we get less than £12,000 a year half of what the Conservatives say is the normal wage! I have had a pay freeze for 5 years and a 20-25% pay cut in real terms during this time. Most of the public sector are paid at the low end of the pay scale the private sector should realise this. No school can run without support staff doing a lot more work and responsibilities than we are paid for. I work fulltime and each month have to not pay one bill to pay the one we couldn't afford last month. The people who say "we should be grateful for a job" should try living on my wage for a change.

    12:46: Breaking News

    Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude told the House of Commons that responsibility for disruption caused by the stoppage lay with union leaders, adding that the right to strike must be exercised "responsibly".

    Public sector workers striking in Bristol march with Michael Gove masks. Public sector workers striking in Bristol march with Michael Gove masks.

    Public sector workers striking in Bristol march with Michael Gove masks.

    Public sector workers march in Bristol Public sector workers march in Bristol

    In Bristol, public sector workers carry banners declaring "get the Tories out", "Govebusters" and "fair pay now".

    12:48: Breaking News

    The Local Government Association says that across England, Wales and Northern Ireland around 95% of council staff are at work today, with contingency plans in place to ensure there was "as little disruption as possible".

    12:51: Richard, Bristol

    emails: I find the unions' lack of respect for the wider public despicable. How they hope to achieve anything by striking is beyond me. In the long-run, it will just increase the public's demands for stricter strike laws so that public services are not put at risk and parents do not have to make short-term, expensive and inconvenient arrangements for childcare.

    Public sector workers strike in Coventry

    Public sector workers in Coventry gather in the sunshine to strike for better pay.


    BBC WM political reporter Kathryn Stanczyszyn tweets union estimate for number at Birmingham rally.

    13:00: Edgar Joycey, Thessaloniki, Greece

    emails: Having in mind the recession that was caused in Greece when public servants' salaries were cut and some were sacked, I would think that any sensible government would want to preserve happy public workers. The cuts in salaries and pensions in Greece led to less money circulating, hence private sector companies closing. It also led to less income for the government making it even harder to balance the fiscal budget. .

    Public sector workers attend a rally in Stoke

    Public sector workers attend a strike for higher pay in Stoke.

    Public sector workers on strike in Stoke

    Workers from the PCS and GMB unions join strikes in Stoke.

    13:07: Elaine Birkett, Teaching Assistant

    emails: I am on strike today and am a Higher Level Teaching Assistant. I work a lot of extra hours for no extra pay, as do most of my colleagues. This is because we care about the children. It is unfair of the government who earn a lot of money and do not have the stress of our job to say we do not deserve a fair wage. MP's should do our job for a day and then they can see how difficult it is! Public sector workers often suffer abuse, both physical and mental, work long hours and ALWAYS get criticised for striking but no one else would put up with it!

    13:08: Alan, Public Sector ICT Technician

    emails: I'm a public sector worker - ICT Technician in a local school - and I'm on strike today. Why? Because I know far too many other public sector workers who do not get a living wage. So, what will a 1% pay increase mean for me? £2.65!!!... I can live on this (as long as interest rates don't rise) and don't need to strike. I could argue that I can't afford to lose a days pay. So why strike? Because there are a massive amount of people who don't earn this much, because I'm a Unison member who believes that we should support those people, because I don't believe the Government is listening or even cares about those men and women.

    13:17: Derek, Romford

    emails: I have been on strike and on the picket line and really can't afford to lose a day's pay but for my future I can't afford not to show my upset, how else can I bring to people's attention the unfairness of this pay offer? Most people I work with are struggling and are often threatened with restructures and redundancies, coupled with more demands on their workloads due to the lack of staff. I and my colleagues work hard and are really flexible in our work its a shame our employers feel that they can't recognise this.

    13:23: Lesley, HM Forces

    emails: I work with HM Forces and we haven't had a pay rise either, we get paid pennies and are work a lot harder and longer hours than any of the people striking, yet when police or fire fighters go on strike we still need to cover their jobs and don't get paid any more so get back to work!

    Liz, Carer

    emails: I am a carer in a private care home. I am a trained NVQ 3 I haven't had a pay rise since I have been in this job, so for the last few years. So I know how people feel but at least they get a pay rise. I can't get my pension till I am 66 and a half and in my line of work I cannot go on strike who would look after the people I look after?

    Michael Gove

    The Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has said teachers who have joined today's public sector strike are harming children's education. The government has argued the strikes are based on ballots conducted some years ago, with low turnout from union members. He said: "The prime minister's said that we need to make sure that the ballots that validate strikes are timely, and that we need to make sure that there's a clear threshold, so that if a strike takes place we know that it has the genuine support of the mass of members of a trade union."


    However, striking union members in London have spoken to BBC News and defended the legitimacy of their mandate for action.

    Philip Hollobone

    Teachers who go on strike should face truancy-style fines, according to Philip Hollobone the MP for Kettering in Northamptonshire.

    13:38: Simon, Basingstoke

    emails: My wages have been frozen for 4 years and my pension is non-existent so I am all in favour of strike action! Hell I think I will strike too. The only thing is that as a private sector worker I might have to book it 2 weeks in advance and take it as holiday or unpaid leave.... In this day and age strike action should be illegal.

    14:01: Terry

    texts: I am on strike and as much as I don't want to be, the public sector are left with very little option. Pay freezes, attacks on our pensions, working life and conditions. We are easy targets for the government to attack as we are under their ultimate jurisdiction.


    Shoppers in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, have been affected after the lifts at the Four Seasons Shopping Centre were put out of service due to a reduced number of trained council staff to deal with emergencies. The BBC asked shoppers what they thought. One woman, who did not give the BBC her name, said: "So what happens to all the shoppers? What do we do? Just walk up and down the stairs?" Another shopper added: "We feel sorry for them all but I'm sorry; we do need lifts."

    14:07: Jo, Hartlepool

    emails: Last year, along with all the other staff (academic and support) in the college I gave up two weeks' pay to balance the books due to swingeing funding cuts imposed by this government. We have also not received the paltry 0.2% pay rise this year due to the state of the finances. This government refuse to recognise the worth of any public sector worker and their role. It is a government which is destroying the further education sector, a sector designed to help those still in need of qualifications and skills after school and who depend on the second chance offered by further education to improve their life chances. As a result, a generation of students and their futures are wilfully being thrown on the scrapheap. No wonder people are out on strike!!!

    14:07: Breaking News
    Trafalgar Square rally

    Despite the rain, public sector workers gathered in Trafalgar Square to get the message across on their reasons for taking part in industrial action.

    14:09: Robert, London

    emails: Having just viewed the procession of striking union members marching down Regent Street, the message they were giving seemed to be more a political anti-Conservative message than anything else. I doubt many any of the shop and office workers in the West End have received any pay rise in the last few years. Personally, my salary has dropped by 25% in the past 12 months as we continue to recover from the world recession and the poor financial management of the last government.

    Strike in Newcastle

    Scott Clarke took his daughter Amber, six, with him on the march through Newcastle city centre.


    Initial feedback from local authorities received by the Local Government Association (LGA) suggests that across England, Wales and Northern Ireland around 95 per cent of council staff are at work today continuing to help run local services, the LGA said.

    Mike, London

    emails: I am a member of UNISON who works in local government. I voted against the strike only a few weeks ago and I am not on strike today. I understand the grievances. In recent years I have had to reapply for my own job several times and had to absorb more responsibilities and work areas as we have made staff redundant. My pay has not kept pace with inflation and there is no sign of this changing in the foreseeable future. I would like to see the government demonstrate that it values the public sector by investing in it's future and agreeing a pay deal which keeps pace with inflation. A pay rise of 1% is not enough. We need at least 2%.


    Updated statistics have been given for the number of schools in Wales affected by strike action.

    A total of 912 schools have closed today due to industrial action. A further 215 are disrupted.

    David Winnick

    The Labour MP for Walsall North, David Winnick has spoken out in support of the strikers.

    He said: "Despite all the Tory smears and slurs today, those who have taken industrial action are fighting for justice, for fairness, and they have absolutely nothing to be ashamed about."

    Strikers at Trafalgar Square

    Here is another image of the strikers assembled in Trafalgar Square, central London, with banners, flags and placards.


    The Local Government Association (LGA) has urged unions to accept the offer on the table regarding pay packets.

    A spokesman said: "With a £5.8 billion funding shortfall to tackle over the next two years, budgets for local services will continue to be stretched for the foreseeable future."


    The LGA spokesman added: "The offer we have made to increase most employees' pay by 1% is at the absolute limit of what local authorities can afford.

    "We urge the unions to accept this pay increase so that it can reach the pockets of our hardworking staff who have been kept waiting for it since April."

    14:24: David Hunt, London

    emails: My son and I were on strike today at Woolwich Centre, south east London, to demonstrate the fact that workers across the country need a decent rise in pay as the proposed 1% pay rise is a ridiculous, unsustainable and a poke in the eye towards us, the public sector workers.

    Strikers march in Telford

    Up to 300 people are estimated to have marched through Donnington in Telford, Shropshire, to a rally that was organised by the joint public unions. They included cleaners, school support staff, refuse workers and HM Revenue and Customs staff.


    Edna Hall, Unison regional organiser for the Telford area, said many of its members were part-time, low paid staff, some of whom relied on food banks and benefit top-ups.

    She said: "Many of them are just 35p above the minimum wage. They're claiming benefits just to get by and that's plain nonsense. You may as well pay a decent day's pay for a decent day's work."

    Michael Dugher

    Shadow cabinet office minister Michael Dugher said the government should bear much of the blame for strikes.

    He told the Commons: "Instead of ramping up the rhetoric, the government should have been getting people round a table."


    Mr Dugher added: "Strikes represent a failure on all sides and all sides have a responsibility to prevent strikes from taking place.

    "It's sabre-rattling, it's union bashing, it's playing politics, it's a deliberate distraction and frankly, it's pathetic."

    14:35: Jennie Harper

    emails: I am a normal teacher and I am on strike today. I am standing here in Trafalgar Square in the rain. I am not here enjoying a 'day off'. I love my job and I want the time, energy and strength to do the job I love well. I teach well and will continue to do so and fight for my children to have the education they need and deserve to become the people they have the ability to be. I just want to teach. Let me teach.

    14:36: Dave, prison officer

    emails: As a prison officer it is illegal to strike, however I would love to do so to show my support for other public sector workers and my disdain for the disgraceful way my colleagues and myself have been endangered by understaffing whilst being robbed of our pensions and cheated out of years of retirement.

    Strikers in Nottingham

    An estimated 2,000 strikers brought Nottingham city centre to a standstill. The rally ended with speeches from several unions in the Old Market Square.

    14:42: Breaking News
    ED Miliband

    Labour leader Ed Miliband said he does not support strikes because they are "a sign of failure on all sides". He added: "Nobody wants to see these strikes because of the disruption caused. The key now is to prevent further strikes."


    Mr Miliband added: "The government is ramping up the rhetoric against public service workers. The government has demonised teachers. I'm not going to demonise public sector workers."

    14:45: Anne Dickenson, Cambridge

    emails: When the librarians come out to march, you know things are bad. I work in a school. I am fed up seeing our resources cut and watching my teaching colleagues swimming against the tide to provide our students with the best chance for a good future.

    Rosie Bartram, a librarian from Nottinghamshire

    Library worker Rosie Bartram, from Eastwood in Nottinghamshire, regrets losing a day's pay to go on strike but felt she needed to after losing a big chunk of her salary because of cuts.

    She said: "I went from 37 hours down to just 19 so my wages have been greatly reduced. I've got a nine-year-old and it's difficult sometimes to make the money stretch until the end of the month."

    FBU members strike in London

    Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) stood on top of a fire engine during the Trafalgar Square rally in London.

    John Fitzsimmons, teacher

    emails: I am a secondary school teacher who is on strike. The main reason I'm striking is my workload and secondary pay. I work 60+ hours each week. You cannot sustain this workload. My workload often affects the standard of lessons I can plan and deliver and that is wrong! Anyone who disagrees with teachers striking then please come and shadow me for one week and see how you get on.


    In Scotland, court services have been reduced while some museums and driving centres are closed for the day as members of the PCS union protest over pay cuts. The union said there was only one courtroom in operation at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, while Portree and Dingwall courts were closed completely.

    Patrick McLoughlin

    Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin condemned the strikes because they affect people who have got nothing to do with the dispute.

    He added: "I also think they are wrong because some of them are based on ballots that were placed two years ago with very small percentages of people actually voting for strike action."

    15:02: Charles Sweeney, Manchester

    emails: I have worked in the public and private sector and I have to say my perception of the public sector is one of mass inefficiency and three people doing one job. Apart from the emergency services and the police, the rest need to take a long hard look at themselves. The pensions that all these people want are ridiculous and they need to wake up to the fact that the public just can't afford this structure any longer.


    The BBC's Sophie Hutchinson, in Trafalgar Square, says the complaint uniting workers from across the public sector is pay. She says: "The mood of this protest is good tempered and relatively upbeat but the demonstrators' message to ministers shows their growing resentment and frustration."

    Oli Lancaster, Manchester

    emails: : I walked past the HMRC building in Central Manchester on my way to work this morning, past a picket line. A worker walked past the picket and tried to enter the building, and was confronted by a striking union member. This poor lady was asked "Why aren't you joining our action, don't you care about your future or your colleagues?" I find the whole strike despicable, as us poor schmucks in the private sector have no option but to soldier on in similar conditions (below inflation pay rises, no defined-benefit pension, no guaranteed sick-days, no overtime pay and all the rest of the benefits many of the public sector workers enjoy). Even worse, I find it disgusting that someone should be intimidated and put under pressure simply for attempting to turn up for work. Join the real world!!


    Calls for a change in the law to make schools stay open during any strike period have been raised by Conservative Therese Coffey, the MP for Suffolk Coastal, during a weekly question session to the House of Commons leader Andrew Lansley. She said: "There'll be many parents of children who have not been able to get to school today. Could we consider a debate on whether to make it a statutory duty of governing bodies that schools must stay open?"

    15:14: Dr Matthew Ashton, a politics lecturer at Nottingham Trent University

    says: "In the current political climate is seems unlikely that one-day strikes will have much of an impact. During his time as Prime Minister, David Cameron has repeatedly referred back to Margaret Thatcher and her legacy. He would very much like to be remembered as a leader in her mould. As a result the chances of him giving into union pressure with less than a year to go to the election seem very slim."

    Caroline Lucas

    Green Party MP Caroline Lucas delivered a message of support at a rally in Brighton, where public sector workers were taking part in the one-day walkout. She told them: "We stand in solidarity with all workers and those out of work. Their fight is our fight."


    The Local Government Association said turnout for the local government strike was about 5% and added that many waste collection services were running as normal.


    The latest figures we have from Unison on school closures is that 3,225 schools in England and Wales were closed today and 1,000 schools were partially closed.


    According to Unison figures, that means 15% of schools in England and Wales were affected.


    In Northern Ireland the deputy general secretary of NIPSA, Alison Millar, said: "Workers, all of whom have experienced a significant reduction in real pay and purchasing power since the 2008-09 financial and economic crisis, need a decent pay increase, whether they are employed in the public or private sectors. We all no longer tolerate the further enrichment of the wealthy while ordinary workers struggle to live on reduced real income."


    And here's a look at how services have been affected in Scotland. Court services were reduced, with museums and driving centres closed.

    A Scottish government spokesman said: "Main Scottish government and agency buildings remain open and arrangements are in place to ensure essential business continues.

    "Current returns indicate that 919 Scottish government staff are taking industrial action today - representing just over 12% of the workforce."


    Schools are already on holiday in Northern Ireland. But some council-run premises were closed, including leisure centres, recycling centres and Belfast Zoo.


    A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "There is no justification for further strikes. Less than a quarter of NUT members voted in favour of striking in a ballot which is now two years old. The NUT asked for talks, we agreed and talks are carrying on."


    The DfE added that 21% of schools in England were closed today, according to their figures.

    "That represents a huge drop on the 60% of schools which closed the last time that unions representing both teachers and support staff like caretakers went on strike," said the spokeswoman.

    15:54: Chris, Reading

    emails: I have worked in both the private and public sector and currently work at a Local Authority as a manager. My office today has 95% of the workforce in and is open as normal. There is a picket line which is being ignored by employees and visitors alike. Yes my hours are long and workload huge but so are my friends in the private sector, but they do not get 32 days leave (after 5 years service), flexitime or final salary pension, for example. In my 26 years at work, I have always found the strikers consist of people who want more money but do never want to take on more workload or responsibility. I started at the bottom of the pile as a 18 year old, 26 years ago and got where I am through hard work, and progress and not by striking...


    The Cabinet Office tweets: "Francis Maude: We want to thank the vast majority of public servants who turned up for work as usual today."


    In Wales some 70,000 public sector workers have been on strike. All business at the Welsh Assembly was cancelled, with delays at the DVLA in Swansea while Cardiff's National Museum and the Butetown Tunnel were both shut.

    Strikers in central Manchester

    Thousands of public sector workers gathered in central Manchester. BBC Radio Manchester's Euan Doak said: "Union members came from across the North West, where workers said they were ready for a long fight."


    This brings to a close the BBC's live coverage of the strikes which have seen hundreds of thousands of people across the UK take part of a co-ordinated day of action by public service unions. For more major updates visit the main BBC News story online.


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