- 30 июня 2011, 11:55
• Latest on today's public sector and pensions strikes
• Why are public servants striking?
• Tell us your story - fill in this form to let us know details of rallies, marches and demonstrations across the country
• Check out our school closures map for the latest for your area
• Tell us why you are striking: [email protected] or @paultowen
• Read more: More than 10,000 schools affected by strikes
• Doctors vote to ballot on industrial action
Jessica Shepherd writes that Michael Gove, the education secretary, has told parliament that just over a quarter of schools in England were closed today.
Gove described the strikes as "disappointing and unnecessary" in a written ministerial statement. Some 6,386 schools - including academies - were closed, while 5,234 were partially closed. This means 27% of state schools under local authority control and 28% of academies were fully closed.
"I know that many teachers are concerned about the changes that have been proposed to their pensions," he wrote. "But I believe that we must resolve these differences through negotiation and that the action today, while discussions are still going on, was disappointing and unnecessary. I am grateful to headteachers and governors who have worked hard to keep schools open. And I am particularly grateful to all those school staff who – while they may also have concerns about pensions - have decided to go into work today to minimise the impact on pupils and their parents. However I am also disappointed that there has been disruption to the lives of so many parents across the country. The government remains committed to discussing pension reforms with all the teacher unions openly, honestly and constructively."
Shiv Malik has been speaking to protesters grabbing a drink in the Westminster Arms near the London rally.
Phil Harris, a science teacher from Ilford Ursuline high school in Essex, says that he is here because he believed that there were other ways to cut the deficit than increasing pension payments.
"Before I went into the profession, my dad told me that it would always have a good pension. That's not why I teach. I do it because I like my subject. And I like to communicate to other people," says Harris, 38 today.
"But in a sense, teachers shouldn't be looked at as if we are normal employees. We're there providing a dividend for the next generation to continue the production of wealth. And I just don't believe that the country is so impoverished that we can't afford to do it. None of the other avenues to cut deficit have been explored," Harris says.
His colleague George Irwin, who like Harris was drinking a Stella, added, ""The proverbial straw for me was the 3% contributions to pension's payments. As a teacher in my early 30's it's not the increased age of retirement or the reduced money I will receive. It's more the immediate hit. I will be £80-100 worse off straight away."
He adds that his drink is "well deserved" after a long day's marching.
Hannah Waldram has just been speaking to Paul Rooney, 37, from Falkirk in central Scotland, who recently left a post as a civil servant after 13 years – he gave us a more realistic picture of the type of pension scheme he left with.
Starting out as an administration officer on £14-£15k, Rooney left the job on £22,000 as an executive officer – he had been paying into a premium pension scheme and in his final pension statement was told he'd receive £149 per month on retirement after the age of 55 to the end of his life – but this figure would not rise with inflation.
Rooney said his reflects many other situations which demonstrate those working in the public sector are not handed out 'gold-plated' pensions as they are sometimes portrayed:
"It does seem like quite a small value to receive per month. I'm probably quite typical of most people who work in the civil service.
"A misconception seems to be rife just now that these pensions are 'gold plated' but the civil service doesn't lead to some wealthy retirement. We signed up to and accepted our wages for a decent pension and now the goal posts are being moved quite dramatically – I think that just sticks in people's throats."
Rooney added that he had been in contact with some other former colleagues who while supportive of the strikes simply could not afford to take a day off.
"The majority of civil servants are on £25k or less, and to lose £80-£90 for a day off is something they just can't afford. That's just the reality – they're not lazy but are really supportive."
Rooney has also been commenting below the line here as RedRooney so feel free to join the debate.
Denis Campbell writes:
Following the doctors' vote on potential industrial action over pensions this morning, the head of the Royal College of Nursing has said that its 400,000 members could end up doing the same, if negotiations with ministers prove unproductive.
Here's what Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the nurses' union, said when I asked for his reaction to the BMA's decision: "Our members expressed deeply held concerns about their pensions very clearly at RCN Congress in April, and asked that if these changes go ahead, that they should be balloted on industrial action. Along with the majority of other unions, we are committed to seeing through the current talks to ensure that we are speaking up for every single member.
"Nurses and healthcare assistants are currently faced with a two year pay freeze, high inflation, a threat to their pay increments and an attempt to reduce the value of their pensions, at the same time as they are expected to do more with less. We are concerned that morale among all health staff may reach breaking point."
Could nurses, who earn an awful lot less than doctors, soon join their white-coated colleagues in staging a ballot?
on the AOL Daily Finance site, Clare Horton tells me. Martin Cloake writes:There is a good pensions piece
The government is pushing the line that public sector pensions costs are too high and still rising. But changes already agreed by public sector unions have already reduced the value of public sector pensions by 10%. The National Audit Office says this will "stabilise costs in the long-term around their current level of GDP".
The government asked Lord Hutton to look into the pensions issue, and in his report he went further. He said that public sector pension contributions would go down from 1.9% of GDP to 1.4% by 2060. And that's before any of the changes he proposed would kick in.
It's here that the government's assertion that public sector pensions are "unaffordable" begins to unravel. The Public Accounts Committee said it expects the costs of pension payments to stabilise over the next 50 years, saving taxpayers an estimated £67bn.
This is what Evan Davis and Francis Maude were arguing about on the Today programme this morning (see 10.08am).
A filter cordon is in place at Whitehall j/w Trafalgar Square for the safety of members of the public in that area
Jessica Shepherd writes:
Annie Holder, a part-time performing arts tutor at Lewisham adult education college, told the Westminster rally that she would receive a pension of £60 a week. The three percentage point increase in employee contributions would make paying into a pension "unviable".
"It will be simply too expensive, so even that small safety net will be gone. Who will want to enter my profession, with such poor provision for their retirement?" she said. "This will deter the best and brightest from wanting to work in further and adult education because it sends a clear message: your work is not valued. And if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys."
Good blog post by a teacher, courtesy of my colleague Patrick Butler.
Ed Miliband needs urgently to find a narrative which shows understanding of what actually happens in reality in our classrooms – a reality, at a time when with reduced budgets classroom assistants may be harder to find, which includes a lot of very hard work and responsibility of a sort which sometimes requires on-the-spot, practical support.If they understood in their hearts more about every day pressures inside the classroom, Ed Miliband and colleagues might find it easier to articulate in their heads what needs to be done to resolve matters in these changing circumstances.
Hélène Mulholland writes from the central London rally:
Paul Gardner, English lecturer at the University of Bedfordshire, is on his first ever strike. The reason? Both personal and "social". "The personal is that it is going to be an attack on my immediate living of standards because I will be paying £100 more into my pension each month. My pension will be reduced and I will have to work longer. The social reason is that the cutbacks are totally unnecessary."
Gardner doesn't think today will make much of a difference to the government over the road but, he says, "it will make a difference to the people". He said: "It has brought people together and they will realise they are not alone and that there is an alternative to cutbacks. People recognise that when David Cameron says we are in the same boat, we are not. Ordinary people are having to pay for the profits of the rich."
Aneurin Rainbird, from PWC, has come out in his lunchbreak. Dressed in a smart grey suit, Rainbird said today's London event is an opp to express anger at what the government is doing. Rainbird, who has always worked in the private sector, said; "I don't think it will affect things too much but it is an opportunity to try and be heard and there are not many avenues to do that." He said he has sympathy with teachers, lecturers and civil servants defending their pensions.
"People will look back on this situation in 50-100 years time and think how crazy that people in the middle and the bottom were being asked to pay for mistakes made by those at the top."
Severin Carrell, our Scotland correspondent, writes that union leaders claim that today's civil service strike in Scotland was the best attended strikes "in years" after thousands of office workers, immigration staff, defence workers and government officials stayed away from work.
The Scottish parliament and the Scottish government's headquarters in Edinburgh, Faslane nuclear submarine base, Glasgow and Edinburgh airports, museums and job centres were affected by the strike, although there was little reported impact on the public.
Unlike in England, many public servants, such as teachers, have their salaries and pensions set by the Scottish government.
Joy Dunn, political officer for the PCS union in Scotland, said she believed some 90% of its members in Scotland took part in the strike action. About a thousand PCS members took part in a rally in central Glasgow at noon.
The Haircut Before The Party have been giving demonstrators free haircuts at the demonstration in Trafalgar Square."Radical hairdressers"
A press release from the Metropolitan police shows massive strike turnouts. 95% of the Met's Central Communications Command day shift – the people answering 999 calls – and 90% of the night shift went on strike. The Met said 135 police officers from CCC and an additional 200 officers from the boroughs have been or are being brought in to help respond to emergency and non-emergency calls from the public over the strike period, but there has been some impact on the time taken to answer emergency calls: the average fell below the target of 10 seconds to 15 seconds.
Lots of tweets that Tony Benn has arrived at Westminster Central Hall.
I'd like to see David Cameron on his zimmer frame dealing with unruly classes in his late 60s. Teaching isn't the sort of profession where you can hide behind your desk if you're feeling unwell. Teachers need to be alert, active and on the ball. You could work til later in other professions, but not teaching.
Also, a teacher working until later is depriving a younger, newly qualified teacher of a job. There are already enough of those looking for work.
Full support from me I am a teacher but am not on strike (wrong union). However my son's special school teacher is on strike so I am at home with him - fortunately been given compassionate leave. I am a 'hard working parent' and a 'tax payer' - all the meeja keep going on about is how the strike will affect these people. To be one of them Dave et al, you don't have to work in the private sector. Very proud of my colleagues today.
Hélène Mulholland sends this picture of the rally outside Westminster Central Hall.
Polly Curtis is also at the rally in central London. She says strikers attending the Methodist Central Hall rally are angry about their pensions, public spending cuts, and the government's handling of the union negotiations – but judging by their reaction to the speeches, they are angriest with the Labour leadership.
Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, called Ed Miliband, who has refused to back the strikes, a "disgrace". The booing and clapping was far louder and longer than mentions of David Cameron or the coalition.
Michael White, who is with me, said: "In politics people usually hate their side more than the other. It's the old politicians' joke: that's the opposition, the rest are behind you."
He says he is against moves proposed by Lord Hutton to stop allowing independent school teachers from being part of the teachers' pension scheme, which is underwritten by government. It could "drive a wedge" between state and private schools, he says. A "small number" of the school's teachers will be on strike today.
The Metropolitan police say 18 people have been arrested since this morning for a variety of offences, including possession of drugs, criminal damage and breach of the peace, reports Hannah Waldram. There is a section 60 in place meaning officers can stop and search, the Met said.
Hélène Mulholland writes from the London rally near the Houses of Parliament. She writes:
Westminster Central Hall, despite its size, filled out ages ago. Hundreds outside with banners. An alternative stage set up in nearby Tothill Street and also filling up. UCU leader Sally Hunt has already spoken. Called on Nick Clegg to apologise for what he said on TV earlier and attacked government by soundbite.
Unconfirmed reports are coming through via Twitter of some arrests and searches taking place in some areas of London, reports Hannah Waldram.
This tweeter posts an image of a young man being put into a police van – alleging his arrest was for violent language.
GBCLegal is also tweeting about arrests occurring following stop and searches - these are unconfirmed.
Another poster says she has heard of a girl being arrested for having camouflage found in her bag.
Dustsister on Twitter reports roughly 1,000 people on march in Liverpool, and AdamRamsay posts this image from Oxford where he also says there are about 1,000 gathered.
Hannah is speaking to the police now about how many arrests they have made.
Hélène Mulholland writes from the London march:
Sections of crowd angry as they watch three young men - all minority ethnic - are stopped and searched - bang opposite the road from Downing Street. One woman claims via loudhailer that this happened to several people today. I witnessed an incident right at the start. A small line of police are standing calmly as an individual with a loudhailer stands close and shouts: "Let them go" to the police behind. As the young men are released, people cheer, then walk on.
Martin Wainwright writes:
Strangeways prison in Manchester has used emergency back-up procedures for prisoner transfers after strike disruption by administrative staff. Prison officers are not allowed to strike but some 70 gathered outside the jail in their lunch break for a meeting about pensions. Speakers raised the "bizarre" possibility of officers having to work on into their late 60s and facing confrontations with potentially violent inmates including jailed leaders of Manchester criminal gangs.
Staff at the Land Registry in Durham have joined the strike with some pickets joining 1200 protesters at a midday march and rally at Grey's Monument in the centre of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. About 1000 protesters are also meeting in Leeds' City Square over the lunch break.
Jessica Shepherd says most independent schools are not mentioning the possibility of teachers striking on their websites. But Trent College, an independent school in Nottingham, has a statement to parents that shows the strength of feeling among independent school teachers. It says:
Under the new government plans, teachers will have to pay more into their pension scheme, work longer and receive less when they retire. Members of the teaching staff who belong to the unions are very much aware of the impact strike action could have on students' learning, and they are conscious that as a boarding school we have a duty of care towards our boarders. We are also very aware that our dispute is with the government and not with Trent College.
The statement goes on to say that striking was "not the best way forward" for Trent staff and the school will be open, but staff "wholly support our colleagues who do choose to strike".
BMA News, the doctors' union newspaper, has just put this out regarding their 87% vote in favour of a ballot on industrial action:
BMA council chairman Hamish Meldrum said the vote, backed by 87% of representatives, did not mean doctors would take industrial action but expressed an intention to ballot "in the event that there is a government plan to halt the final salary scheme and replace it with an unfavourable career average scheme for doctors" ...
Manchester consultant paediatrician Andrew Rowland said: "This does not mean it has to be a strike. It could be sticking to job plans, not doing unpaid overtime or working without enthusiasm."
If working without enthusiasm counts as industrial action I know a number of people who ought to be balloting their members every day.
just been speaking to Hélène Mulholland, who has made it as far as the end of the Strand, by Trafalgar Square, with the public sector marchers.I have
She says it has been a good-natured march so far. "It's a good atmosphere … There doesn't seem to have been much trouble," although she mentioned the stopping and searching of two non-white students mentioned earlier.
"I think the turn-out has been good; some people are surprised how good it is." The estimate was about 25,000, and it seems like more like 30,000 were here. "The feeling is clear … They want proper negotiations; they don't feel like they are getting that from the government … It's very much seen as the first stage, not a one-off."
Any headline figure of PCS union members who are out on strike is only half the story of who is not in work today.
Other union members who cannot afford to lose a day's pay or are frightened of losing their post have taken leave or will work from home. Non-union members are choosing to do the same as few are willing to cross the picket (many non-union members are just as angry, they just cannot spare the money for the subs). Still more staff are on leave or working from home as they have childcare problems today.
Maybe around 10% of the civil service below grade six is in the office, given what I have observed of plans made for today.
Helen Carter writes to say that fears of disruption to air travel in north-west England have so far proven to be unfounded.
Manchester Airport said it was "business as usual", with operations running "smoothly".
Airport officials said they had planned ahead by bringing in dozens of replacement staff to cover for those striking immigration workers.
Temporary seating was put in place across the terminals in case of lengthy queues, a spokeswoman said.
"Extra staffing from areas like customer services or back office functions have been organised airside and landside to help manage queues and provide information," she added.
"It is currently business as usual though and things are going smoothly."
There was a similar picture at Liverpool John Lennon Airport where officials said the disruption to normal services was minimal.
In the centre of Liverpool, the National Museums for Liverpool's Walker art gallery and Liverpool World museums were closed for the day as a result of the strike.
Members of the NUT are holding a rally in George Street in Liverpool city centre.
Hannah Waldram writes that roughly 600 people have gathered in Sophia Gardens in Cardiff before making their way through the city centre to Cathays Park on an organised march at 12.30pm.
I spoke to Edmund Schluessel – a member of the University College Union at Cardiff University, who also sent in this picture, about the atmosphere. He said:
"There's a small speakers' corner and people are mainly standing around chatting – talking about their own pensions – including a couple of policemen."
Schluessel said there was not a great police presence, but four policeman on horse back to control the crowds – which were made up of members of the UCU, ATL and NUT. Many members on strike had brought along their children too.
"Everyone is showing their support for the union members today and the education sector. A lot of the universities are already out – so we expect to build support over the summer and see bigger strikes taking place in September.
"We're a bit worried about the possibility of rain, but everyone is smiling and chatting with friends and there's a feeling of support for the strikes – people were driving past the picket lines honking their horns this morning."
you should definitely have a 'Not sure' option on your survey... I think thats how a lot of us feel.
Hélène Mulholland, who is with the march in central London, just overheard an update on the police radio: "A few suspects have been taken out of the crowd."
in our poll, Hannah Waldram reports. Out of 445 votes so far, 358 say they are supporting the strikes in some way or actually striking and 87 said they won't be striking. Gordon, commenting on the poll, writes:Some of our readers on Facebook have been tell us whether they are in support of or on strike
I am unable to join a picket today as I am a member of the NASUWT! The largest teachers' union has opted out of a strike today. On the basis that its negotiations with the government would be hampered by such a move? I am annoyed and disappointed with my union as I feel that it is not accurately reflecting the feelings of its membership!
And Joshua writes:
Unison hasn't balloted their members so I am at work today, despite working at a school. I am wearing my PCS and NUT badges though.
The London march is peaceful and buoyant so far, Hélène Mulholland reports. The turn-out seems very big; she has not been able to get out of Lincoln's Inn Fields yet. A lot of people have brought their children, she reports.
Peter Walker has been listening to the TUC's general secretary, Brendan Barber, on Sky News. Barber was speaking from Exeter, where a strikers' march is taking place. He said the government had repeatedly imposed changes to public service pensions without consultation. "I'm a believer in negotiation, but the government needs to demonstrate that in real terms."
Barber rejected the idea that the strikes amounted to a policy of "negotiation with threat". The strikers were "showing their real anger at this deep sense of injustice that the government's approach to pensions is just not fair", he said, adding that if ministers wanted more pensions changes "we need genuine negotiation and not just change by diktat".
Paul Waugh of PoliticsHome has tweeted this about Andrew Lansley, the health secretary:
Andrew Lansley leaving LGA conf in Brum, took big detour to avoid strikers outside CouncilHouse and to get to New Street stn
Christine Blower of the National Union of Teachers, one of today's striking unions, has put out a statement on the strikes.
Today's action across the country demonstrates the anger and distress that this government is causing teachers. Their unjustified attacks on teachers' pensions are nothing short of disgraceful.
Teachers are dedicated to the children and young people whom they teach. They are professionals and do not take strike action lightly. But they cannot stand back and see their pensions attacked when all the evidence shows that they are affordable and sustainable and that their costs are falling.
"In our negotiations, the government has refused to offer any movement on the three core issues of teachers having to work longer, pay more and get far less in retirement. Despite the government's refusal to conduct a valuation of the teachers' pension scheme, they continue to say that teachers must pay 50% more for their pensions and must work until they are 68. It is they who are responsible for the situation that we now find ourselves in.
Hélène Mulholland is inching out of Lincoln's Inn Fields with the marchers in central London. Organisers are saying the crowd is about 30,000 strong, she says – a claim met by huge cheers and whistle-blowing.
The London march has set off. Hélène Mulholland sends this picture.
Only three of 16 scheduled hearings in the city's central courts building were sitting this morning, with some difficulty according to strikers' pickets, though some union members are understood to have reported to work and are helping to keep the skeleton service going.
Eddie Garner, Manchester branch secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, said that most court staff had walked out.
Nationally the Ministry of Justice says: "The majority of courts and tribunals are sitting as planned and services are being maintained. While there has been some reduction in services, HM Courts and Tribunal Service has robust contingency plans in place which will prioritise the delivery of our most essential services, these include custody cases and urgent family cases."
The strike has in effect stopped work at the passport office in Liverpool with all but a dozen of the 550 staff walking out for the day. Other satellites of central government on Merseyside have been disrupted including Criminal Records Bureau and Ministry of Defence offices.
Local councils say that 400 out of Merseyside's 900 schools have closed and a further 200 are running limited activities. But the city's John Lennon airport has not suffered disruption.
A teacher on BBC News has just asked: "Do people really want 68-year-olds teaching their children?" That's not really the issue, is it? It's whether the teachers still want to be teaching the children at 68.
Hélène Mulholland has more from central London, where the march is just setting off, a bit late.
She just walked past five police officers stopping and searching two non-white 17-year-old sixth formers, Aamir Kadir and Jean-Claude Goddard, in Lincoln's Inn Fields to the dismay of onlookers. They were searched because of their keffiyeh scarves. A police officer said they were searching them under section 60 of the Criminal Public Order Act. Hélène asked him why he had chosen to stop and search two young non-white people when surrounded by white women with scarves round their necks. He said because of violence at previous anti-government protests, the police were watching people who were wearing scarves in case they were using them to commit violence. Another protester called Greg Muttitt asked an inspector why the police were doing this. He said it was an empirical judgment - people used keffieyehs to mask their identity.
Aamir said: "I'm just a young person disgusted with the government cuts and I just wanted to show a bit of support." He seemed a bit shaken.
Hélène Mulholland sends more from the march in central London:
It's packed. Union leaders are addressing the crowds just in front of those mothers of all balloons I mentioned earlier. Mark Serwotka of the PCS has just been on and earned huge applause. The unanimous view is that he trounced Francis Maude on the Today programme this morning and blew apart the government's official reasoning for the reforms ie unaffordability.
A law firm is warning that parents who seek to have the day off today to look after their children could find themselves in trouble with their employers. Paul Griffin of DBS Law said:
Anyone thinking of phoning into the office today and claiming absence on the grounds of a parental emergency could find themselves in hot water. Whilst parents are entitled to unpaid time off to arrange childcare due to sickness or some other such unpredictable event, these strikes have been known about for months. Employers could argue that this situation does not qualify as an emergency and take disciplinary action against individuals who don't turn up for work.
Of course employers will have to deal with the resentment that this kind of action would generate but for companies looking to make urgent cuts in the workforce this may be a price worth paying.
see 11.22am). A spokesman said:The Department of Health has responded to the British Medical Association's 87% vote in favour of a ballot on industrial action (
The government has accepted Lord Hutton's recommendations as a basis for consultation with public sector workers, unions and others and will set out proposals in the autumn that are affordable, sustainable, and fair to both public sector workers and the taxpayer.
Trade unions that operate within the NHS, including the BMA, have been invited to get round the table to look at how best to implement the employee contribution increases announced in the comprehensive spending review.
BBC News is with the marchers in central London, where a teacher says he is worried that a worse pension deal will put off good young people from joining the profession. The problem of an ageing population is nothing new, he says; we should have tried to deal with it a long time ago.
Steven Morris sends more from Merthyr Tydfil, where the usually packed job centre (the town is a notorious unemployment spot) is empty apart from a handful of staff who are not on strike.
A notice on the front door says that "due to exceptional circumstances you may experience delays in service today". But it looks as if clients appeared to have taken the day off, too, or been told not to bother to come in.
Most members of the public in Merthyr seem sympathetic to the strikers. Of course, it is the sort of area where unions are traditionally strong. Polish factory worker Sylvia Zun arrives at the HMRC office hoping to speak to staff but is turned away. "I understand; I'll come back tomorrow," she says.
Staff on the picket line at Merthyr Tydfil College say they teach youngsters about their country's past – which includes its strong trade union traditions.
Just one example from that picket line. Kathleen Evans and her husband Simon are both lecturers. Evans says their pensions are going to be in effect halved. They have two children who they would like to go to university at about that time they would hope to start drawing the pension. Factor in elderly parents to be looked after and hard times are ahead.
Hélène Mulholland is at Lincoln's Inn Fields with the striking public sector workers as they prepare to march to Westminster. She writes:
Sun is shining - though grey clouds are looming - over Lincoln's Inn Fields as teachers, academics and civil servants - already numbering well into the thousands - from an array of different services congregate ahead of a march scheduled to kick off at 11.30am weaving through to Whitehall, before reaching its destination near St James's Park, opposite the Treasury.
Many of the 25,000 expected will stream to the rally being staged at Wesminster Central Hall. The usual signifiers pf protest are in evidence: the helicopters - two - hovering overhead, the whistles, the calls by friends and colleagues ("Anyone here from Haringey?"). The sound system is blasting, with mass balloons overhead saying: pensions justice. Let's hope they don't deflate.
The motion endorsed by a large majority of the 500 delegates at the conference "calls on the BMA, in the event that there is a government plan to halt the final salary pension scheme and replace it with an unfavourable career average (CARE) scheme for doctors, to ballot the BMA membership regarding all forms of industrial action."
Speakers in favour argued that, if the government's changes went through, doctors would have to work longer, contribute more of their earnings and receive fewer benefits. Dr Jan Wise, a consultant psychiatrist who proposed the motion, said "At this moment all options need to be available" in order to put pressure on the government to change its stance.
Dr Andrew Dearden, the chairman of the BMA's pensions committee, warned ministers that "there is a great deal of anger and fear among doctors and medical students" over the plans, adding: "we will use every means at our disposal to fight these changes and to fight for our pensions".
Reform of the NHS pension scheme was unnecessary as it was overhauled as recently as 2008 and delivered a £2bn surplus every year – money which the Treasury can borrow – Dearden added.
Speakers against the motion warned that taking industrial action could mean doctors lost the trust of patients and the public.
Protesters have gathered in central London and are preparing to start marching at 11.30am. On BBC News, demonstrators are comparing their pension deal with the bonuses paid to bankers, who caused the financial crisis. On Sky News a protester says the extra money teachers are being asked to pay into their pensions are unaffordable for Londoners. She says parents have been very supportive of the strike at her school. "We don't want to annoy them, we don't want to antagonise them, but at the same time we just can't afford to do what the government want us to do."
My colleague Andrew Sparrow has rounded up some more political comment on the strikes on his blog (quotes courtesy of PoliticsHome).
These strikes are wrong at a time when negotiations are still going on, but parents and the public have been let down by both sides because the Government has acted in a reckless and provocative manner. After today's disruption, I urge both sides to put aside the rhetoric, get round the negotiating table and stop it happening again.
John McDonnell, Labour MP
There's no other option but to strike to try and get some serious negotiations. So I actually think [Miliband] has just misunderstood the situation, and I'm hoping he's going to listen and meet with a few teachers and civil servants so I hope he understands exactly how they feel.
Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary
My impression is that the disputes are strongly supported, and the real sense of anger that is felt so strongly across all public services is coming across loud and clear today. Given the barrage of propaganda against the union position, I think the fact that [support] is about half and half is not a bad position.
Increasingly our arguments are now getting across. The government says the system is unaffordable, but the evidence shows that is not the case. The National Audit Office, Lord Hutton's own report and the public account committee are not saying the system is unaffordable. The way in which the government is trying to make changes by diktat without negotiation is not acceptable. I think people realise that too ...
Labour will have to say what they want to say. What I think they certainly could say is to defend very strongly that the deal that was done over four or five years ago was a solid, sustainable deal that included arrangements that would require people to increase contributions as life expectancy changed. I think Labour could be speaking up for that deal and the integrity of that deal and they are not.
Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister
We're not seeking to be at loggerheads with the trade unions. We all agree, I think, across the political spectrum that public sector pensions need to be reformed. We want to do that in a reasoned and reasonable way, but that reform does need to happen.
Boris Johnson, mayor of London
I would like the government to take action [ie to impose a threshold on strike action]. I would like them, obviously, to begin with people who have a monopoly over the provision of mass public transport in a great city like London ... It's like some kind of Indonesian puppet theatre and I'm kept in the wings and wheeled on like some kind of ogre to say this terrifying play that old Johnson has, we'll do it unless you shape up. People really need to start thinking seriously about it.
Some of those on strike today may want the public sector to stay the size that it is now, with the pay and benefits that it currently provides. But it can't and it won't. Sooner or later, the cost of public services has to come down. If this government doesn't manage it, the next one, whoever they are, will have to.
Inside Housing is reporting a picket line outside the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Jessica Shepherd says no independent schools are likely to close.
I have just spoken to the ATL teaching union and HMC, which represents the leading independent schools. They say that while some teachers are going to be on strike, there won't be enough to close schools. Ian Power, the HMC's membership secretary, says that many schools have activity days today. These require fewer staff and are easy to rearrange.
Michael Gove has been speaking to Sky News about today's strikes, my colleague Hannah Waldram reports. The education secretary used the word "disappointed" three times to express his feelings towards those taking action:
I'm disappointed people have decided to go out on strike today. We want to make sure everyone in the public sector has decent pensions.
Children really lose out as a result of today's strike and particularly parents have been put into a lot of inconvenience as a result of the strikes.
Talks have a long way to go yet. The biggest union [Unison] isn't on strike today. It seems to me to be a little bit disappointing that some people have decided to go out on strike.
Gove is at his child's school (he has two children) as a parent today – putting into practice his plea earlier in the week for parents to help keep their schools open.
Denis Campbell reports from the British Medical Association conference, where doctors have just voted 87% in favour of a ballot on industrial action.
Doctors have voted overwhelmingly to ballot the profession on industrial action to protest against the coalition's plans to overhaul the NHS pension scheme.
Delegates at the British Medical Association's annual conference in Cardiff voted by 87% to 13% in favour of a motion that will see the union seek the views of its 140,000 members about "all forms of industrial".
The vote means the first industrial action by doctors since 1975 is now a very real possibility, given that Ministers show no sign of backing down in their determination to push through major changes to NHS staff's pensions.
The British Medical Assocation conference has just voted 87% in favour of a ballot on industrial action. The prospect of doctors striking could be a very worrying one for the government. More soon.
Dan Milmo has more from Heathrow. He's at terminal three, a big international arrivals spot where Australia's Qantas, Singapore Airlines and American Airlines operate. Passport queues there are hovering around the government target of 45 minutes for non-EU passengers, Dan says.
Debbie Seely, 59, a US citizen who flew in from Chicago with AA, said she waited for around 45 minutes but was handed bottles of water by staff as passengers waited. "It took about 45 minutes and they handed us bottles of water. The queue was always moving and we really didn't have to stand still for long."
Continuing the sports theme, the Australian national futsal team - apparently something to do with indoor football - said it had to wait around 30 minutes at passport control after embarking from its Qantas flight. Which leaves them enough time to challenge the Brazilian national rugby team to a kickabout (see 9.15am).
Ed Miliband has reiterated his point that the unions and the government are both to blame for the strikes, which he says are wrong because negotiations are still ongoing, Hannah Waldram tells me. The Labour leader says parents and the public have been let down because the government has acted in a "reckless and provocative manner". Both sides need to "put aside the rhetoric" and "get round the table" to stop this kind of action happening again, he says.
We're getting a lot of comments below the line wishing the "best of luck" to public sector workers out striking today. In terms of the general level of public support, our readers have mixed views but said they thought the mood was widely supportive.
If the unions could not even garner the support of a majority of its own members on a matter of pure self interest what chance do they have of winning public support :)
I don't know a single person, public or private sector, who support the governments stance in this. Everyone supports the strikers though everyone I know also regrets the need to strike.
I don't work in the public sector, but I support the strike 100%. Difficult to gauge how widespread support is. I live in a relatively wealthy market town in the North of England which routinely elects Tory councillors, but last night in the pub there was unanimous support for the teachers - I think this government may be alienating some of it's core support.
My support is with the teachers and have told them so (and I have a child at - well not at today - school).
However, I think this is exactly what the Gov want.
Better to demonise a sector for outrageous strikes (translation - standing up for their rights) and to distract the public from the cock up they are making of the economy.
Manc magistrates have written to defendants saying not to turn up if they have a hearing today. Happy times. Except loads didn't get the … message and turned up anyway
We will have a look into that.
Hélène Mulholland is out in central London with the marchers.
For John Davies, who works part time in a university, going on strike as a last resort to defend pay and conditions is a "must do". But he concedes that not everyone is of his persuasion. Davies concedes that for many colleagues a picket line and all it entails is a frightening prospect. Pressure from employers, the fear of workplace victimisation later down the line, losing a day's pay, and being branded a "militant" by detractors for standing on a picket line whatever the weather is no picnic.
Davies believes that this is because a dearth of public sector strikes over recent years has made people forget what change can be achieved by workers all downing the proverbial tools together to register their opposition to a proposal as a "last resort". "Those methods and thinking about solidarity have to be relearned," says Davies, a leftwing political activist.
Tom Grainger has worked as a nurse for more than two decades, was introduced to the picket line in his first year as a qualified nurse, back in the 1980s. Striking, he says, is not a pleasant experience. "It is not something you would want to repeat too often, but there is a sense that you are making a point. The fact that it is unusual to go on strike is why you want to listen to what you have to say."
But it's not just those going on strike that feel the stress. Colleagues that belong to another union that has not balloted can be placed in a tight spot as they struggle to fend off employer demands to fill in for colleagues - a move that would be seen as undermining the strike effort.
Sally Tompkins says the pressure she and her teaching assistant colleagues are under when members of the National Union of Teachers stage their walkout today actually feels worse than actually going out to strike because of the government's "divide and rule" tactics.
Tompkins, a Unison school rep who found herself on the picketline a few years ago over a previous round of pension reforms, says Gove's suggestion that heads should use low paid classroom assistants to fill in for striking teachers and also resort to bringing parents in (the CRB checked-kind) was seen as an attempt to divide both the staffroom and the membership. The contracts of higher level teaching assistants requires them to cover classes for teachers who are off sick or on training days. But a strike is not the normal type of planned absence and Tompkins' union has issued guidance to say members should refuse.
But she says the situation is stressful nonetheless because the school could argue that her stance is in breach of her contract.
Names have been changed to protect identities.
Brian Lightman, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, says the previous valuation of the teachers' pension scheme indicated that it was self-sufficient and not being underwritten by taxpayers, reports education correspondent Jessica Shepherd. Lightman says:
Teachers are, very understandably, asking that any changes to the scheme be made after the scheme is reassessed. This is something that the government has promised to do but not delivered. The Treasury has made two critical decisions related to public sector pensions without any consultation whatsoever. It has changed the inflation calculator from RPI to CPI which will each year further reduce the value of the pension earned by retired members. It has also determined to make an increase of over 3% in the contribution rate over the next three years to reduce the current national deficit, in a move completely unrelated to the cost of the pension scheme. Given this unfair treatment it easy to understand why public sector workers are so angry with the government.
On the Times Educational Supplement's forum, teachers are asking each other what they hope to gain from striking today. One has this to say:
If teachers are serious about this and really wanted to "put up a fight" as one poster suggested, then only striking for one day is a bit pathetic. Makes us look more like wimps instead of seriously disgruntled workers. Even the timing of the strike is ridiculous. It won't impact on examinations for year 11 because they've finished. The most it is going to do is cause babysitting problems for parents who still want to go to work. Expect to be publicly humiliated on Thursday by the press, the government and the public. To be honest with you, I'm beginning to think we deserve it. If you are going to fight, then fight. Don't p.i.s.s. into the wind in a futile gesture for one day.
Here's Michael Gove, the education secretary, striking with the National Union of Journalists in 1989.
Pickets gathered outside "the Ministry" as the big Department of Work and Pensions offices in Longbenton, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, are known, cheerfully set up for the day with flasks of tea, sandwiches and placards. Hoots were encouraged from passing drivers and the strikers hope for more public support at rallies in Newcastle, at 1pm at Grey's Monument, and Middlesbrough, at 12.15pm on Linthorpe Road.
Schools in north-east England have been badly hit with 139 closed or partially closed in Newcastle and Gateshead, 106 in county Durham, 88 in Sunderland and 86 in Northumberland. Councils in the region are working on an estimate that 25,000 staff will strike.
There has been no disruption yet at Newcastle and Durham Tees Valley airports where border agency staff and other public sector workers have been asked to walk out.
In Yorkshire, some staff are expected to strike at Leeds Bradford airport but the management said that everything possible would be done to avoid disruption. Councils and government agencies including the headquarters of the National Health Service in Leeds said that around 20,000 staff were expected to join the action.
More than half West Yorkshire's 894 schools have been affected by the action, with 383 completely closed and another 85 running a reduced day.
Rallies are being held from noon in Leeds, City Square, Bradford, Centenary Square, Huddersfield, St Patrick's Irish centre and Halifax, Arden Road social club.
South Yorkshire has 366 schools affected, 192 of them completely closed, but parents have taken over management of the traditional leavers' prom at Ridgewood school in Scawsby, Doncaster, which faced cancellation because of the strike.
Robin Hood airport at Doncaster said that services were operating normally but some council services in the town have been disrupted
The Driving Standards Agency expects to cancel tests across both regions, with customers being offered immediate rebookings.
details of Evan Davis's detailed grilling of Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, on Radio 4's Today programme this morning.On his Politics blog, Andrew Sparrow has
Davis wanted Maude to admit that Lord Hutton's report on public sector pensions did not say that the pensions system is unaffordable.
ED: I'm going to read you a line and ask you whether you think the account you've given is the same as the one he gives. "There have been significant reforms to public sector pension schemes over the last decade. Some of these changes have reduced projected benefit payments" - blah, blah, blah - "Projected benefit payments fall gradually to around 1.4% of GDP after peaking in 2010-11 at 1.9%." That's just saying it's not unaffordable, we don't want to afford it. It's cheaper. It's going to be 25% cheaper in the next few decades in terms of the burden on GDP than it is at the moment.
FM: What he's saying is that long-term reform is needed.
ED: Absolutely. For different reasons.
this great Storify round-up of some of the pictures and videos posted up on social networks from the picket lines.My colleague Hannah Waldram has put together
Steven Morris writes from Merthyr Tydfil, where workers on the picket line outside HM Revenue and Customs have a secret weapon – Jack the dog.
"I bring him to every strike because he barks and annoys the people inside," says Margaret "Mags" Davies, secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union's south Wales revenue and customs branch.
There don't seem to be many people in the building for Jack, who is dressed in a union high visibility jacket and tinsel - to irritate. Davies believes that only two of the 90 people who work in the building are there. She thinks they are going to bus workers up from Cardiff to open the inquiry office – but by 9am its doors are still closed half an hour after the first clients ought to have been seen.
Davies says it was no problem persuading the office's 85 union members to stay away from work. "People are very angry – it was simple to make the case for the strike," she says.
They have two major complaints – the threat of closure hanging over the office and changes to pension deals. Davies, 51, says she will have to work an extra six years and pay nearly £40 extra a month.
Tina Hale, another union rep, said: "My members will be working longer and paying higher contributions for a smaller pension. They did not cause this crisis - the bankers did. Yet they are being made to pay for something that they had no control over. They should not be made to suffer when there is a workable alternative to the coalition's swinging cuts policy."
Hundreds, possibly thousands, are expected to attend a rally in the town later. There will be a brass band and Merthyr TUC will host speakers from unions, community leaders and Labour party activists.
It is likely to be a passionate and angry affair – remember the anger in Merthyr last year when Iain Duncan Smith seemed to imply that unemployed people in the town simply had to get on the bus and go to Cardiff to find a job.
More from Dan Milmo at Heathrow:
Here on the PCS picket line at Hatton Cross, next to the southern runway, there is a determined mood. Nur Alam, a PCS branch officer, said there could be more walkouts in the autumn unless there are "meaningful" talks with the Home Office over pensions, job cuts and pay.
"Unless the department holds a meaningful consultation, we will have no other option."
Staff cuts are an underlying concern, amid the publicity given to pensions reform in recent weeks. Sue Smith, deputy president of the PCS Home Office group, said "a lot" of UKBA staff had come out on strike today.
"They are absolutely furious about the cuts that have already taken place in the border force, including voluntary redundancies at Heathrow where people have left and have not been replaced." She added: "In general there are fewer staff and longer delays, so passengers are getting stressed and shouting at staff."
Boris Johnson (left), the mayor of London, was on Radio 4's Today programme this morning, where he renewed his call for changes in employment law so that unions would have to secure a certain level of turn-out in a strike ballot to make the industrial action valid.
He complained of "very low" turnouts in industrial action ballots of around a third of those entitled to vote, and said he would like to see legislation in areas where workers had a monopoly, such as public transport.
Some other interesting comments on the strike so far this morning:
Francis Maude, Cabinet Office minister
It's absolutely unjustifiable for parents up and down the country to be inconvenienced like this, forced to lose a day's work when they're trying to go out to work to earn money to pay taxes that are going to support teachers' pensions, which will still, at the end of this, be among the very best pensions available.
Tessa Jowell, shadow Cabinet Office minister
The schooling of thousands of children is going to be disrupted today. Those children should be in school, their parents should be able to go to work and both sides in this dispute - government negotiators and the trade unions - should be round the negotiating table. We're absolutely with the people of this country who should not have their services disrupted. I'm critical of the way, as Labour is critical, of the way in which the government has handled this dispute, but these strikes today should not be taking place.
Mary Bousted, general secretary, ATL
We don't want to be on strike, and we wouldn't be on strike if the government had been prepared to do what they say they're going to do now, and that's negotiate. How can I negotiate when I don't know the health or otherwise of my [pension] scheme? And that's the cavalier and inept way that they've approached these negotiations. My union hasn't been on national strike throughout its history, in 127 years. Do you think I would be here now if there was any other way?
We are expecting the best supported strike we have ever seen.
Lindsey German, Stop the War
The same people who tell us that the country "can't afford" to pay pensions or provide public services have now entered into their third major war in ten years - with no end in sight. How about ring fencing spending on pensions, welfare, education and health? And facing up to the fact that we can't afford all these wars?
Jenny Jones, Green party candidate for mayor of London
The government cuts are cutting into the pensions of people who have worked and saved and thought they could be safe in old age. This is not pension reform, it is simply a pay cut on top of a pay freeze. It's bad economics, and forcing more people into poverty damages the whole of society. The strike has my full support.
Julie Hesmondhalgh, who plays Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street
Sending love, best wishes and solidarity to all of you engaged in industrial action today. Let's send a loud and clear message to this government that we'll not lie back and allow them to pick away at everything that matters in this country. We are ready to fight!
Jessica Shepherd writes that Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, will tell protesters at Westminster Central Hall today that the average pension of a female college lecturer is just £6,000. Hunt will say:
This is a government that has already presided over an increase in the income of the richest 1,000 people by 18%. How dare they call us gold-plated? How dare they to preach to us about fairness. And who are they to lecture us about letting our students down? We would be letting our students down if we failed to stand up for fairness. We would be letting our students down if we let government get away with teaching on the cheap. And we would be letting our students down too, if we allowed what previous generations won over decades to disappear in a summer. Teaching is the profession that teaches every other profession. Upon education rests all our hopes for future prosperity and all our hopes for a fair society. And a fair society means fair pensions for all, not just for teachers and civil servants, but for everyone.
The University and College Union has given us a round-up of how lecturers across the country will be striking, writes Jessica Shepherd, our education correspondent. In Exeter, there will be a march to Belmont Park and then a music festival there led by Billy Bragg from 1pm. In Bristol, Oxford, Birmingham, Nottingham, Liverpool, Newcastle and Manchester, there are marches and rallies.
Here is our map of union rallies and demos around the country. If there's an event we've missed, please share the details with us.
Dan Milmo writes from Heathrow:
Business at usual at Heathrow terminal five, where passengers and British Airways, T5's only tenant, are reporting no significant delays. The Brazilian national rugby team - travelling to a tournament in Cornwall - said it took about 15 minutes to get through passport control. "It seems normal," said Erick Cogliandro, 27, who travelled on an Italian passport and had even shorter queues to contend with. However, his team-mates had few problems: "They just took 15 minutes. I don't know what normal is here but it was pretty empty."
Moutie Abrahams, 42, who flew in on packed BA flight from Cape Town, said he endured much worse queues when he visited London two months ago. "We came here two months ago and we stood in queues for a really long time. Today it was much quicker." He added: "In South Africa our strikes are more efficient. You would still be standing there."
BAA, Heathrow's owner, said all passport control queues were within government targets although some non-EU passengers at terminal three, which is home to Qantas and Singapore Airlines, have had to wait as long as 45 minutes - the government mandated limit. At T5, the longest wait is around 25 minutes. "At the moment it is going well. There are no significant queues, no more than you would expect at a normal peak time," said a BAA spokesman, adding that more UKBA staff appear to have reported for work than expected. BAA and UKBA were concerned that school closures would have hit attendance because parents could have been forced to stay at home for childcare reasons.
Heathrow itself is operating normally, with nine out of ten flights arriving and departing on time.
Jessica Shepherd, the Guardian's education correspondent, has heard that many schools in David Cameron's Oxfordshire constituency are on strike today. The National Union of Teachers says 100 schools are closed - fully or partially - and that includes the majority of secondary schools.
Here is a Google map of the route of the march in central London today. It starts at Lincoln's Inn Fields, Holborn, and ends at Westminster Central Hall near the Houses of Parliament.
Hello and welcome to the Guardian's strike day blog. Up to 750,000 public sector workers are expected to strike today over planned changes to their pensions.
A third of schools are expected to close and another third partially close while two thirds of universities have cancelled lectures. The government expects one fifth of Britain's 500,000 civil servants will strike. Benefits will go unpaid, court cases will be postponed, police leave has been cancelled in London and airports are bracing themselves for backlogs at immigration.
Roads in central London will shut as thousands of people march in demonstrations that will be echoed across the country. Some groups calling for peaceful civil disobedience are planning events in the capital. There were suggestions on the web that anarchists may target the events.
Both the unions and government are watching keenly to gauge the public tolerance to today's the disruption, to influence their future strategies.
The main march in London will meet at Lincoln's Inn Fields in Holborn at 11, moving off at 11.30. The route will take in Kingsway, Aldwych, the Strand, Whitehall, Parliament Street, Great George Street and Storey's Gate, where there will be a rally at Westminster Central Hall. The TUC says it is expecting "hundreds of thousands" of public sector workers to attend.
I will be covering events across the country live here, with help from my colleagues around the country, including Hélène Mulholland on the march, Dan Milmo at Heathrow, Steven Morris in Merthyr Tydfill, and Helen Carter on the picket lines in Knowsley. Jeevan Vasagar and Jessica Shepherd will have the latest from schools and universities, and Polly Curtis will keep us updated on the civil service.
Amelia Gentleman has been speaking to benefits office staff fearful about what they see as an attack on their livelihoods.
Mark Serwotka of the Public and Commercial Services union explains why the public should support today's strikes.
The collapse of private sector pensions is one of the greatest outrages of our time. Just over a decade ago half of all private sector workers were in a workplace pension scheme; today it's less than a third. The cost of that decline will be borne by the taxpayer through increased eligibility for means-tested benefits such as pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit; greater health and social care costs; and an increase in our already shocking levels of pensioner poverty.
However, while pensions have been ripped away from ordinary workers, the directors of large companies continue to net very generous pensions …
Don't tell low- and medium-paid workers on strike today in defence of their modest pensions that they are being unfair on the "hard-working taxpayer" – as if public sector workers are not in that category too …
On average, the public sector workers I represent can expect an occupational pension of £80 a week. They will also get the basic state pension of £102 a week. That combines to an income of just £4 over the official weekly pensioner poverty line of £178.
A Guardian editorial says that many aspects of the pensions system are not sustainable.
There need to be changes, which are likely to involve working longer and paying in a bit more, where that is affordable, as is the case with private sector pensions and the state pension. And the defined benefit commitment that has been promised to the unions is a benefit very much worth having – as the millions who have lost it in the private sector know only too well. The unions need to be acutely sensitive to the limits of public sympathy.
Finally, here are is a detailed breakdown of who is expected to strike where, courtesy of Polly Curtis:
It is estimated that a third of schools will shut, with a further third partially closed. According to a survey by the Press Association nearly 8,000 schools will be affected in 143 areas. Big cities will be worst affected with Liverpool, Newcastle, Manchester, east London and Camden facing the most closures. Up to 20,000 private school teachers will also join walkouts. Some 70 are at Eton College, but they say they will "minimise disruption, [and] take the pensions issue forward by other means".
Colleges and universities
About 350 colleges and 75 universities will be affected by walkouts. None are expected to close but lectures and classes will be cancelled. None of the Russell Group universities are in public pension schemes so it is mostly staff at former polytechnics joining the picket lines.
Ports and airports
Between 12,000 and 14,000 UK Border Agency employees affiliated to the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) could go on strike. PCS membership is strongest at Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester airports and the port of Dover. Managers have been trained to man passport control booths, but there are fears that non-EU airline and boat passengers will suffer delays, as they face lengthier checks when entering the UK. A spokesman for BAA, Heathrow's owner, said: "We expect there to be significant delays at the UK border for arriving passengers." PCS claimed that temporary passport checkers could struggle to detect forged documents, despite contingency training. However, airports sources played down the security threat, saying that delays at passport control are the biggest concern.
Jobcentres and benefit offices
Most will be opened by non-striking managers but are likely to offer a reduced service. Claimants who sign on on Thursdays will not have to do so and money will be paid into their accounts.
The Ministry of Justice says it has "robust" contingency plans and Downing Street confirmed there would be no closures. Some cases could be cancelled, with priority given to the most urgent family and custody cases. Unions say that people who are sentenced tomorrow on Thursday may have to spend an extra night in a holding cell, with due to a lack of staff to process their transfer to prison.
Junior staff in nearly every Whitehall department are PCS members and many are expected to join strike, as well as a rally being organised in Westminstes. Senior staff are not striking, so will keep the machinery of government ticking over. Downing Street confirmed a small number of No 10 staff are joining walkouts.
Driving test centres
More than 60% of the DVLA workforce are PCS members so there will be a greatly reduced service, with delays to registration of vehicles, and the issue of tax discs and driving licences. The DVLA expect most test centres to remain open and that driving tests due to take place on Thursday should go ahead.