1. ITV Report

Day of protests in region

The Government is to face a storm of protest over public sector pensions, pay and jobs today.

Union leaders predict that up to 400,000 workers will be involved in a wave of demonstrations, including tens of thousands from our region.

Protests have been fuelled by ministers making clear in the Queen's Speech that they are pressing ahead with their controversial reforms.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude described the strike as "futile" and insisted that talks over pensions will not be reopened.

More than two and a half thousand off-duty police officers from our region are travelling to Westminster as part of the protests.

They include 400 from Hampshire, 200 from Dorset, 650 from Thames Valley Police, 700 from Sussex and 470 from Kent.

Border staff at Gatwick, Heathrow and Dover, civil servants, lecturers, health workers, Ministry of Defence staff and members of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary will also be among those joining strikes and other forms of protest.

Jobcentres, airports, tax offices, colleges, driving test centres, museums and military sites will all be hit by the action.

Backroom staff and military police are to be used to cover the strike action within by immigration officers.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said: "The security of the UK border is of the utmost importance and we will use contingency plans to ensure we minimise any disruption caused by planned union action. We are preparing to use our trained pool of backroom staff and MoD police to boost staffing levels at ports and airports around the UK."

Picket lines will be mounted outside jobcentres, courts, at airports including Heathrow, Parliament and other Government buildings across the UK.

The walkout follows last November's huge stoppage by more than one-and-a-half million workers in protest at the changes to their pensions.

Most public sector unions remain opposed to the reforms, which they warned would leave millions of workers having to pay more into their pensions, retiring later and receiving less when they stop work. But FDA members in senior grades of the civil service voted by almost 3-1 to accept the deal negotiated with the Government for new pension arrangements from 2015.

Deputy general secretary Dave Penman said: "This result should not be interpreted as an endorsement by FDA members of the new scheme. FDA members remain deeply unhappy about aspects of the changes and the Government's approach to pension reform."

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