UK Teachers, Civil Servants Plan Summer Strikes
HUNDREDS OF thousands of British teachers and civil servants will go on strike later this month, unions said Wednesday the latest in a wave of walkouts by workers facing frozen salaries and shrinking pensions.
Members of the National Union of Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers announced they would walk off the job for a day on June 30.
Another group, the Public and Commercial Services Union, said 250,000 of its members would hold a 24-hour strike the same day.
The union represents a wide array of public-sector staff, from border guards to tax officials and court workers.
Britain’s public sector workers are facing job losses, pay freezes and cuts to once-generous pensions.
The government says everyone must share the pain as it cuts 80 billion pounds ($130 billion) from public spending to reduce the huge deficit, swollen after Britain spent billions bailing out banks.
It is cutting jobs and benefits, raising the state pension age from 65 to 66 and curtailing pension payouts.
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said the government was still negotiating with unions over pension changes, and going on strike now would be a “big mistake.”
Opponents claim the government’s austerity measures risk sending the country backward into a double-dip recession, and unions say that with inflation over 4 percent, workers are suffering.
PCS leader Mark Serwotka said his union’s members worked “for low pay in tough circumstances”
“Hardworking men and women who didn’t cause the problem shouldn’t be the ones paying the price,” he said.
Dave Prentis, general secretary of the Unison union, said more strikes would follow in the autumn, as workers reacted to a “perfect storm” of pay freezes and lower pensions.