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
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Public sector workers picket outside the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, Scotland.
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.
About 135,000 civil servants — a quarter of the total number of employed workers — went on strike.
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."