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Thousands take part in biggest strikes since 2010

Thousands of teachers, refuse collectors, firefighters and other public sector workers in our region are on strike today.

Around two thousand took part in a rally and march in Leeds this morning. Almost 600 schools are closed and a further 450 partially closed as teachers took part in the marches or manned picket lines.

There were similar scenes in Bradford - today's walkout is the largest one-day strike over pay by public sector workers since 2010.

The TUC's regional secretary Bill Adams says the Government are not listening to staff concerns, but MP Patrick McLoughlin says the action is hurting the public:

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Minister says 'fewer than 500,000' took part in strike

A government minister has said fewer than 500,000 people are estimated to have taken part in today's public sector strike, a significantly lower number than union leaders have claimed.

Members of the GMB union make their way through Brighton as part of today's strike action. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude, who is responsible for the Civil Service, said: "Our official estimates are that fewer than half a million took part in this strike action – well short of the inflated claims of union leaders.

"Within the Civil Service, there has been the lowest recorded turnout for a national strike," he added.

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Union calls Government's strike figures 'laughable'

A union has described the Cabinet Office's figures on the amount of people striking today as "laughable".

Public sector workers march through Newcastle city centre today. Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

The Cabinet Office claims a fifth of civil servants - around 90,000 people - are on strike compared with a third in the last big walkout in 2011.

However, the Public and Commercial Services union dismissed the Cabinet Office's claims, saying: "No-one can trust this government to keep reliable figures, it can't even tell us what it's done with dozens of Home Office files."

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Govt claims less than 20% of civil servants are on strike

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said fewer than 20% of civil servants were on strike today compared with a third in the last big walkout in 2011.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude speaks in the House of Commons today. Credit: PA

Mr Maude said today's disruption was the fault of union leaders and urged public sector workers that the right to strike must be exercised "responsibly".

He pointed out that only one in five members of Unite and Unison had taken part in ballots leading to the strike, adding that low turnouts strengthened the case for reform.

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Gove: Teachers have 'no excuse' for going on strike

Education Secretary Michael Gove told ITV News there is "no excuse" for teachers going on strike, which has "caused disruption for hardworking parents".

Mr Gove said: "There's no justification for this action and teachers, I hope, will draw the appropriate lesson from today which is that it is their responsibility to put children first and to be in the classroom teaching, not on the picket line striking."

Cabinet Office: Strike numbers down on 2013

The Government say around a fifth of civil servants are on strike today as several unions take part in industrial action.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said:

“Most public sector workers have reported for work today and well-rehearsed contingency plans are ensuring that nearly all key public services are being delivered as usual.

“In past years, unions made inflated claims about how many they thought would participate in strike action. They were shown to be wrong."

The statement said:

  • a fifth of civil servants - fewer than 90,000 – are on strike – that is down from the strike action in March 2013;
  • all 717 Jobcentres opened this morning;
  • the majority of schools in England and Wales are open;
  • fire services are operating across the country; and
  • nationally, disruption to local government services is minimal.
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