Schools shut and thousands march in pensions strike

A union hired a double-decker to spread its message around Nottingham during the strike.

More than 380 schools in Nottinghamshire were closed for the day due to strike action.

An estimated two million public sector workers across the UK walked out over proposed pension changes.

Thousands joined the main regional rally from Nottingham's Forest Recreation Ground to the Albert Hall, which set off at 11:30 GMT.

Nottinghamshire Police said 5,000 people had attended the rally, although organisers put the figure at 10,000.

The majority of Nottingham City Council's 101 schools closed and the county council said 286 of its 341 schools had shut.

Five of the county's libraries also closed as well as eight day centres for adults and three children's centres.

The city council said six of its libraries closed along with 14 city council-run adult day care centres.

Start Quote

Ceri Vincent

I can't afford to strike but I can't afford not to strike either”

End Quote Ceri Vincent Geophysicist, British Geological Survey

East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) said it had been able to "cover the shortfalls that have arisen".

'No choice'

Ceri Vincent, a geophysicist from the British Geological Survey in Keyworth, said she felt she had no choice but to strike.

"I can't afford to strike really but I can't afford not to strike either," she said.

"I joined this organisation 11 years ago with a contract and now they want to change the pension I was told I was entitled to."

At the scene

Dan Sinclair

BBC News, Nottingham

Joining the thousands marching from Nottingham's Forest Recreation Ground it was hard not to get carried away with the feeling of goodwill.

Cars were hooting their horns while shoppers stopped to watch and smile. I even saw members of the public high-fiving marchers.

One protester said she felt elated while another said the numbers seemed to swell as the protest progressed.

But on speaking to individuals, the general feeling was different.

Workers of all ages were there, they said, because they were angry.

They said they were angry that the public sector was being targeted for the mistakes of bankers.

Standing on the picket line outside County Hall in Nottingham, Gail Squires, from Unison, said: "The strike today is primarily about defending our pensions but you also have to see it in the context of cuts to services, job losses and a two-year pay freeze and a further two-year cap of 1% just announced by the chancellor.

"Public sector workers are being asked to pay for the current economic crisis, not only through their jobs and through their pay but now through their pension funds."

One Nottingham resident, who stopped on the way to work but did not want to be identified, was critical of the strike. She said: "We've had to face cuts and had to face redundancy.

"My husband's had to take time off work, my mum's having chemo today, she might not be able to go to the hospital. They [the strikers] are not thinking about the bigger picture.

"The money that they are going to waste in the country today because of their strike action [is] just going to set back our economy and we should be doing everything we can to try and help our economy."

Anna Soubry, Conservative MP for Broxtowe, said public sector pensions had to move with the times.

"The reason why all pension schemes have changed is because we are living longer," she said.

The official spokesman for the prime minister said: "The strike action will achieve nothing - it would be far better to continue with the talks."

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