1. ITV Report

Union leaders warn of more strikes after day of action

Public sector workers protest in London today. Photo: Reuters/ Olivia

Union leaders have warned that strikes by public sector workers in the row over pensions will continue for the rest of the year following a day of walkouts and protests by tens of thousands of employees including police, prison officers, lecturers and civil servants.

The Government was warned that campaigns of opposition to its controversial reforms will be extended, as more than 20,000 off-duty police officers marched through central London to warn that job cuts were putting public safety at risk.

Political Editor Tom Bradby reports:

Prisons, courts, jobcentres, government offices, colleges, museums and the servicing of Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships were all hit by the walkout - the third national day of action in the last six months over pensions.

Union leaders said over 400,000 workers took some form of industrial action, but the Government questioned the number, claiming that only 100,000 civil servants had taken part in the "futile" strike.

At a rally in Westminster attended by thousands of strikers, the Government was accused of lying, while union leaders pledged to continue organising strikes.

The PCS Union outside the Hight Court in London. Credit: Press Association

At a rally in Westminster attended by thousands of strikers, the Government was accused of lying, while union leaders pledged to continue organising strikes.

Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, said: "Today has been a fantastic success and there will be more strikes in June, at the end of the summer, the winter, next spring and on and on and on.

"We need to make it clear that the coalition of resistence we have with groups such as students and senior citizens is generating momentum."

Ministers insist the current level of public sector pensions is unsustainable and reforms are needed, but that workers will still receive decent payments when they retire.

Most public sector unions remain opposed to the reforms, which they say will leave millions of workers having to pay more into their pensions, retiring later and receiving less when they stop work.

The General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, Mark Serwotka, says his members are on strike because the changes the government is making to the pensions of public sector workers are unnecessary and unfair.

Cabinet Officer Minister Francis Maude described the planned action today as "futile" and insisted that talks over pensions will not be reopened.

It is very disappointing that a handful of unions insist on carrying on with futile strike action which will benefit no one. We would urge these union leaders to reconsider their position. Pension talks will not be reopened and nothing further will be achieved through strike action.

Public sector workers are being asked to work a bit longer and pay a bit more, but they will continue to get a guaranteed pension which is index-linked and inflation-proofed. Most staff on low and middle incomes will receive a pension at retirement as good as what they expect today, and for many it will be even better.

– Cabinet Officer Minister Francis Maude

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