UK strike to have 'significant impact'


The biggest strike in the UK for five years will cause huge disruption to schools, courts and travel tomorrow in the most serious industrial challenge to the British coalition since it was formed.

Hundreds of thousands of teachers, lecturers, civil servants and other workers will walk out for 24 hours in protest at controversial plans to change their pensions, cut jobs and freeze pay.

Mark Serwotka, leader of the Public and Commercial Services Union, said it was the most important strike in his union’s history, adding: “Everything we have ever worked for is under attack.”

The British prime minister launched a fresh attack on the strike, while business leaders warned it will have a “significant impact” on industry.

David Cameron told MPs there was no case for industrial action and repeated that the proposed changes to public sector pensions were “fair”.

Speaking at prime minister’s question time, he said he hoped “as many mums and dads as possible” would be able to take their children to school despite the action.

“I don’t believe there is any case for industrial action tomorrow, not least because talks are still ongoing. It is only a minority of unions who have taken the decision to go ahead and strike.

“What we are proposing is fair. It is fair to taxpayers but it is also fair to the public sector because we want to continue strong public sector pensions.”

He also attacked Labour leader Ed Miliband, who did not ask about the walkout, accusing him of being “in the pocket of the unions”.

Picket lines will be mounted outside school gates, courts, jobcentres, parliament, driving test centres and government buildings by members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), University and College Union, and PCS.

Police leave has been cancelled in London, where union leaders and thousands of activists will take part in a march, followed by a rally in Westminster.

Airports have warned travellers to expect disruption on arrival into the UK as immigration and customs officers join the strike.

Passengers have been advised to consider travelling on a different day to avoid delays as hundreds of staff walk out.

Ryanair called on the UK government to use the army and or police to ensure passport checks at airports are kept open.

High-speed Channel Tunnel train company Eurostar said it would not be affected by industrial action.

It added that it was running two extra trains tomorrow - one from London to Paris, the other from Paris to London, to cope with expected extra demand.