Britain braces for public sector strike over pension reforms

08:56, July 01, 2011      

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Hundreds of thousands of British civil servants went on a 24-hour strike Thursday over the government's planned pension reforms.

It is estimated that up to 750,000 people, including teachers and staffs of job centers, tax offices, courts, museums and even UK Border Agency, could join the strikes.

Many schools were closed and classes were disrupted in England and Wales, forcing thousands of parents to take a day off work to look after their children.

The National Union of Teachers said about 85 percent of schools in England and Wales will be affected.

Travelers have been also warned to expect delays on arrivals at ports and airports in Britain, as many immigration and customs officers are due to join the walkouts. Some of the officers had already been on strike since 1800 GMT Wednesday.

British government officials have criticized the strike, the largest in many years, as "irresponsible."

"People are going to be scratching their heads, wondering why teachers and some civil servants are going on strike while discussions are still going about how we keep public sector pensions among the best available," said Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander had announced earlier to raise the pension age to 66 by 2020 while increasing public sector workers' pension contributions by an average of 3.2 percent.

Addressing the Local Government Association on Tuesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron said the proposed changes to public sector pensions were a "good idea."

Source: Xinhua
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