Public sector workers say they are the forgotten army which provides vital services like teaching, waste collection, firefighting and protecting the vulnerable.
Today many thousands of them took to the streets right across our region in a strike over their pay.
The Government says striking only disrupts people's lives. Many parents left to cover childcare say it's unfair.
Our correspondent Rachel Townsend reports:
Thousands of people across the North West have gone out on strike today in the biggest walk out in decades.
Public sector workers are protesting over pay, pensions and cutbacks.
Rachel Townsend reports from Manchester city centre.
Thousands of public sector workers across the North West will walk out in what unions claim is the biggest strike in living memory. Over a million people including council workers, teachers and firefighters are protesting in cuts to pay and pensions. You've been telling us what you think:
@granadareports I've not had a pay rise for 6 years yet I still have to fund public sector pensions when I can't afford to pay for my own
On Facebook Thomas Wallis says: "Does anyone have any sympathy for these people? We were told that my daughter's class was still ok to attend school in a letter last week and then a letter came home on Tuesday saying the whole school was closed. Thanks for the notice!!!"
Dawn L Foster told us, "I agree with the strikes because the MP's can afford to give themselves an 11% pay rise but can only afford to give people like Nurses, Teachers a 1% pay rise, its disgraceful."
Keep your thoughts coming on facebook, twitter or firstname.lastname@example.org
Striking workers want their employers to enter back into negotiations over their "measly" pay rises with unions, a GMB representative told Good Morning Britain.
Regional Representative Joe Morgan was also critical of proposed changes to the number of votes needed before a strike could be held, saying if the same rules were applied to Parliament, "you wouldn't have one MP elected across the country."
The Government is set to be hit by the biggest strike over pay since it came to power when over a million public sector workers walk out in a bitter dispute.
Teachers, firefighters, civil servants and transport workers are among the workers downing tools and joining the picket lines over pay, pensions, jobs and spending cuts.
Trade union Unison will stage an early morning demonstration outside Parliament, one of hundreds of events across the country to mark the 24-hour walkout.
Michael Gove is urging teachers to reconsider taking part in a national strike on Thursday.
The Education Secretary is set to say those taking part in the walkout are putting their own pay and pensions ahead of children's education.
In a speech to the Education Reform Summit in central London, Mr Gove is expected to stress that the Government's educational reforms are necessary, and that "our status quo" has not been good enough.
"We can't and we mustn't keep going backwards - and failing the poorest above all," he is due to say.
A million public sector workers have been called out on strike tomorrow - in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Teachers, council workers, firefighters and NHS staff are among those who are angry about pay and pensions.
ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen has more.
Tomorrow will see public services across our region severely hit as thousands of public sector workers hold a 24-hour strike. It will hit a range of services from schools to bin collections.
The strike is over pay, changes to pensions and cuts to the public sector.
Andrew Fletcher reports:
There is no justification for further strikes.
"The unions asked for talks, we agreed to their request and talks are ongoing.
"Ministers have also met frequently with the unions and will continue to do so.
"Further strike action will only disrupt parents' lives, hold back children's education and damage the reputation of the profession."