Million workers go on strike

Fundraisers at Bow Street
Fundraisers at Bow Street

The Government will be hit today by the biggest strike over pay since it came to power, when over a million public sector workers across the UK will walk out in bitter disputes over pay, pensions, jobs and spending cuts.

Home helps, lollipop men and women, refuse collectors, librarians, dinner ladies, parks attendants, council road safety officers, caretakers and cleaners will be joined by teachers, firefighters, civil servants and transport workers in the 24-hour strike outside courts, councils and Parliament.

The TUC said public sector workers are on average more than £2,000 worse off under the Government, while half a million council employees earn less than the living wage.

Unison said ending the cap on public sector pay would create thousands of jobs and pump millions of pounds into the economy.

The strike has sparked another pledge by the Prime Minister to change employment laws so that a certain number of people have to take part in a ballot otherwise industrial action would be illegal.

Business leaders and leading Conservatives have been pressing for a new law, setting out a 50 per cent threshold in ballots.

David Cameron insisted in the Commons that the “time had come” to legislate for setting thresholds and pledged to include this in the Conservative manifesto ahead of next year’s general election.

“I think the time has come for looking at setting thresholds in strike ballots ... The (NUT) strike ballot took place in 2012, based on a 27 per cent turnout.”

Unions will complain of “double standards”, arguing that no MPs would have been elected if similar restrictions were placed in general elections.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “This is a valid and lawful ballot and complies with the current legislative framework.”