Today my school was involved in the national strike; I did not strike but still had to go into school to do my contact time. I had to do 9 to 3. In this time I did the following
- Emailing people
- Organising the Christmas activities for the final few days
- Preparing for the Christmas assembly
The following is an extract from the BBC website about the strikes
Tens of thousands of people have joined rallies around the UK as a public sector strike over pension’s disrupted schools, hospitals and other services.
About two thirds of state schools shut, and thousands of hospital operations were postponed, as unions estimated up to two million people went on strike.
But Prime Minister David Cameron described the action as a “damp squib”.
Unions object to government plans to make their members pay more and work longer to earn their pensions.
The strike has had the following effects:
- Department for Education figures suggest 62% of England’s 21,700 state schools were closed, with another 14% partly shut
- In Scotland 98% of the 2,700 council-run schools closed, according to local authority body Cosla, while in Wales 80% of schools were shut. In Northern Ireland, just over half of about 1,200 schools closed
- South East Coast Ambulance Service says it is only responding to “life-threatening emergencies”; London Ambulance Service tells BBC London it is “struggling”, is unable to respond to many 999 calls and prioritising life-threatening cases
- NHS managers say a little fewer than 7,000 of approximately 30,000 routine operations have been cancelled or postponed across the UK as well as tens of thousands of appointments
- BBC News Channel’s chief political correspondent Norman Smith tweeted: “(Health Secretary) Andrew Lansley says patients who have ops cancelled today will still be seen within 18-week limit.”
- In Northern Ireland, no bus or train services are operating
- Plane arrivals and take-offs at Britain’s two biggest airports – Heathrow and Gatwick – are said to be largely unaffected with only a few cancellations of in-bound transatlantic flights to Heathrow
- The Local Government Association said about a third of England and Wales council staff were not in work, equating to about 670,000 out of 2.1 million. Unions estimate about 300,000 public sector workers are on strike in Scotland while 170,000 workers in Wales are taking action
- Just 14 job centres out of more than 900 across the UK have closed, according to the Cabinet Office
- An office in London’s West End was stormed at about 15:50 GMT by a group of protesters believed to be from the Occupy London anti-capitalist campaign group
- Scotland Yard said that, as of 16:15 GMT, it had made 52 arrests for a variety of offences
Why have strikes been called?
The government wants most public sector workers to:
- Pay more into their pensions
- Work for longer
- Accept a pension based on a “career average” salary, rather than the final salary arrangement which many are currently on
- The government says the cost of funding public sector pensions is “unsustainable” as people are living longer
- Unions say the proposals will leave members paying more and working longer for less
What people said
At Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Cameron said he thought the government had made a “very reasonable, very fair offer to public sector workers”. “I don’t want to see any strikes, I don’t want to see schools closed, I don’t want to see problems at our borders, but this government has to make responsible decisions,” he said.
Earlier, the prime minister’s spokesman said a small number of Downing Street staff had gone on strike, while others had been affected by school closures and some staff from the Downing Street policy unit were helping out at the borders.
Mr Cameron’s press secretary Gabby Bertin worked on passport control at Heathrow airport, along with a number of No 10 staff, Downing Street confirmed.
Speaking from Brussels, Chancellor George Osborne told BBC Breakfast that the “strike is not going to achieve anything” and will only “make our economy weaker and potentially cost jobs”.
He said unions should be holding talks with the government to resolve the pension dispute, rather than taking strike action.
‘Refused to negotiate’
But union leaders accused the government of failing to participate in proper negotiations in recent weeks.
Standing out in their suits, ties and smart overcoats, the headteachers took their place at the front of the march. It’s the first time their union, the NAHT, has been on strike for 114 years.
Chris Hill, head of Hounslow Town primary school, said all of the school’s staff were striking for the first time. “It’s not a decision we take lightly but we have to take a stand,” he said. Also among the thousands gathering in central London are paramedic staff, out for the first time since the 1970s.
Among the placards and balloons is a common message to the government: “Don’t work longer, and pay more to get less.”
The number of protesters joining the march delayed its start for almost an hour, and progress was slow.
They were watched by a huge number of police – with roads to the City blocked by barricades and Trafalgar Square ringed with a wall of steel.
The protest ended with a rally at Victoria Embankment – perhaps the cheers were heard a few hundred metres away in Downing Street.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said that the last time unions met Treasury ministers was 2 November, adding that “this idea that negotiations are continuing is just not true”.
Cabinet Minister Francis Maude disputed this claim, saying formal discussions with the civil service unions took place on Tuesday and that talks would take place with teaching unions on Thursday and with health unions on Friday.
A TUC spokesperson responded: “There have been informal exchanges but nothing that could be described as negotiations at the national level.”
Chris Keates, head of the teachers’ union NASUWT, said: “We’re in this position today simply because the government had not entered into genuine negotiations at an earlier stage.”
Labour leader Ed Miliband said he had “huge sympathy” for people whose lives are disrupted by the strike.
But he said he was “not going to condemn the dinner ladies, nurses, teachers who have made the decision to go on strike because they feel they have been put in an impossible position by a government that has refused to negotiate properly”.
Liberal Democrat Party president Tim Farron told the BBC News Channel the unions were wrong to strike because workers on low to middle incomes would get a “better, or certainly no worse” pension when they retire than is currently the case.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said the public sector was “under attack” by the government, adding that the action was justified.
“With the scale of change the government are trying to force through, making people work much, much longer and get much, much less, that’s the call people have made,” he said.