Public sector workers go on strike over pensions

10/05/12

Public sector strike in Central London

Hospital workers, prison staff and people from Job Centres are among the tens of thousands of public sector workers on strike (10 May) over pensions and pay.

These unions say pension changes will leave millions of people paying more and working longer only to get less money when they retire.

Ministers call the protesters' actions "futile" and say there will be no negotiation, they believe public sector workers still get one of the best retirement schemes available.

The government's argument is the country has over-stretched itself, and that current pension deals for public sector workers are unsustainable.

Lee Vernon is a public sector finance worker. The 25-year-old is protesting, he says: "The government is coming after our pensions.

"These are ordinary working people, who are being forced to pay out more at a time when their rent's going up, their bills are going up.

"Everything's going up except their pay which is going down."

Not all the public sector unions are on strike. For example, The main teaching unions are not here or Unison the country's largest union.

Constable Andy Zacharias
Image caption Constable Andy Zacharias is policing the march but agrees with protesters

It's illegal for police officers to go on strike but Constable Andy Zacharias is on duty marshalling today's protests.

Around thirty thousand off-duty officers held their own march past Parliament, though. Andy says he would like to be one of them. He says: "I work horrendous hours, 18 hours shifts, no time off from July to the end of September to cover the Olympics, that also includes people with families.

"So we are exceptional cases, we go the extra mile."

Mark French
Image caption Mark he is an electrician so has a private pension

Mark French is an electrician. He is not on strike but is fitting some street lighting near to the protests in central London.

He works for a private company so has no access to public sector pensions.

He is tired of hearing complaints from people who he thinks have easy lives.

"I disagree with the teachers," he says. "We do a minimum of 45 hours a week, we don't get the benefits that they do. I would like to get paid 17 weeks holiday a year."