Jun 30 2011

NY Times: Public Workers Strike in Britain Over Pensions

Newswire | Published 30 Jun 2011, 9:16 am | Comments Off on NY Times: Public Workers Strike in Britain Over Pensions -

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LONDON — Hundreds of thousands of teachers and public-sector workers across Britain walked off their jobs on Thursday to protest the government’s proposed changes to their pension plans. Union officials warned that this could be the beginning of a wave of strikes this summer and fall over pensions and public-sector budget cuts.

“Today’s action across the country demonstrates the anger and distress that this government is causing teachers,” Christine Blower, head of the National Union of Teachers, said in a statement.

Michael Gove, the education secretary, told reporters that he was disappointed by the strike. “I understand that there are really strong feelings about pensions, and we absolutely want to ensure that everyone in the public, especially teachers, have decent pensions,” he said, visiting an elementary school in south London. “But I just don’t think it’s a good idea to have gone out on strike today.”

Many schools were operating with skeleton staffs; some were shut altogether. Teachers interviewed in the crowd that marched across London on Thursday said that many of their schools had closed down entirely. The government estimated that a third of schools are closed, another third are partly closed and the remainder are fully open.

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