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Scenes From the UK Anti-Austerity Strikes

Austerity Protests Hit the UK

The UK was shaken by one of the biggest strikes in a generation on November 30, 2011, with an estimated 2 million public sector workers across the country walking out for 24 hours to protest about government changes to their pensions. Teachers, hospital workers, immigration officers and other civil servants demonstrated over the Liberal Democrat/Conservative coalition government’s plans to make them pay more for their pensions whilst working longer. The British government has argued that with pe
Photo: Ben Stanstall / AFP/ Getty Images

The United Kingdom was shaken by one of the biggest strikes in a generation on Nov. 30. An estimated two million public-sector workers across the country walked out of their jobs for 24 hours to protest government changes to their pensions.

Teachers, hospital workers, immigration officers, and other civil servants demonstrated over the coalition government’s plans to increase the cost of pensions, while at the same time raising the retirement age.

The British government has argued that with people living longer it is necessary for workers in the public sector to pay more.

Click ahead to see some of the scenes from the action, which unions are warning could be the start of a long struggle.

By Bianca Schlotterbeck
Posted 2 December 2011

'Unprecedented Support'

Demonstrators march with flags and placards as they protest during a public service strike over pensions in central Manchester. Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union said the strikes were receiving “unprecedented support” across the UK.
Photo: Andrew Yates / AFP / Getty Images

Demonstrators march with flags and placards as they protest during a public service strike over pensions in central Manchester. Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union said the strikes were receiving “unprecedented support” across the U.K.

'Damp Squib'

British Prime Minister David Cameron leaves 10 Downing Street in central London. Cameron said that the “strikes were wrong at a time when negotiations were going on”, however he went on to dismiss them as a “damp squib”, stating that "40 percent of schools are open, less than a third of the civil service is actually striking…we have full cover in terms of ambulance services and only 18 out of 900 job centers have closed.”
Photo: Ben Stanstall / AFP / Getty Images

British Prime Minister David Cameron leaves 10 Downing Street in central London. Cameron said that the “strikes were wrong at a time when negotiations were going on,” and went on to dismiss them as a “damp squib,” stating that "40 percent of schools are open, less than a third of the civil service is actually striking…we have full cover in terms of ambulance services and only 18 out of 900 job centers have closed.”

Strikes in Liverpool

A man shouts slogans as thousands of strikers take part in a march during a protest in Liverpool, England. More than 2 million public sector workers took part in the nationwide strike over cuts to their pensions.
Photo: Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

A man shouts slogans as thousands of strikers take part in a march during a protest in Liverpool, England. More than 2 million public sector workers took part in the nationwide strike over cuts to their pensions.

Pets Protest

Pet dog Milo walks along a pavement with a sign tied around him during a march for the public sector strike in Liverpool, United Kingdom. About 4,500 workers marched through Liverpool.
Photo: Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Pet dog Milo walks along a pavement with a sign tied around him during a march for the public sector strike in Liverpool, England. About 4,500 workers marched through Liverpool.

Airports Are Quiet

Passengers check in at quiet check in desks at Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5, west of London. Airline passengers who were warned to expect up to 12 hours delay to their flights, were largely unaffected. Airports cut the number of arrivals on the day by allowing passengers to switch their tickets and the government trained civil servants and police to fill in for up to two thirds of striking immigration workers.
Photo: Carl Court / AFP / Getty Images

Passengers wait at quiet check in desks at Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5, west of London. Airline passengers, who were warned to expect up to 12 hours delay to their flights, were largely unaffected. Airports cut the number of arrivals by allowing passengers to switch their tickets, and the government trained civil servants and police to fill in for up to two thirds of striking immigration workers.

London Strikes

The strikes hit over 2000 London schools and affected the London Ambulance Service which said it could only respond to emergencies where lives were at risk.
Photo: Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

The strikes hit more than 2,000 London schools and affected the London Ambulance Service which said it could only respond to emergencies where lives were at risk.

Schools Shuttered

A padlock hangs from the locked school gates at Whalley Range High School in Manchester.  About 67% of UK state schools shut, with thousands more partially closed which in turn affected the private sector with parents having to stay home to care for their children.
Bloomberg / Getty Images

A padlock hangs from the school gates at Whalley Range High School in Manchester. About 67 percent of U.K. state schools were shut, with thousands more partially closed. The school closures in turn affected the private sector, with parents having to stay home to care for their children.

Glasgow Strikes

Public sector workers picket outside the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, Scotland.
Photo: Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images

Public sector workers picket outside the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, Scotland.

Mass Service Disruption

A notice warns of the closure of the swimming pool as public sector workers picket outside the Scotstoun Sports Campus in Glasgow, Scotland. The strike began at midnight leading to the closure of most state schools, disruption to rail and tunnel services, delays at border areas inside airports and ferry terminals and the postponement of thousands of non-emergency hospital operations.
Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/ Getty Images

A notice warns of the closure of the swimming pool, as public sector workers picket outside the Scotstoun Sports Campus in Glasgow, Scotland. The strike began at midnight leading to the closure of most state schools, disruption to rail and tunnel services, delays at border areas inside airports and ferry terminals, and the postponement of thousands of non-emergency hospital operations.

Civil Servants Strike

135,000 civil servants - a quarter of the total number employed - were on strike.
Photo: Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

About 135,000 civil servants — a quarter of the total number of employed workers — went on strike.

Parents Scramble to Find Child Care

Sisters hold flags ahead of a demonstration against cuts in public sector pensions. UK Education Secretary, Michael Gove said the strike has been "unnecessary" while talks are taking place. "This strike today isn't working. It means that there are parents across the country who've had to scrabble to find expensive childcare. It means there are children who are deprived of a day's education."
Photo: Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

Sisters hold flags ahead of a demonstration against cuts in public sector pensions. U.K. Education Secretary, Michael Gove said the strike has been "unnecessary" while talks are taking place. "This strike today isn't working," he said. "It means that there are parents across the country who've had to scramble to find expensive childcare. It means there are children who are deprived of a day's education."