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Over a million public sector workers walk out in UK-wide strikes

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Over a million public sector workers walk out in UK-wide strikes

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Communities and also in Central Government, Local Government

Over a million public sector workers walk out in UK-wide strikes Over a million public sector workers walk out in UK-wide strikes

More than a million public sector workers are striking today in disputes about pay and coalition cuts.

Firefighters, teachers and tube staff are all taking part in the mass walk-outs.

The government has said that the "vast majority' of public sector workers did not vote for the action, while David Cameron has said that he intends to change strike ballot laws.

Workers are furious about the government's 2010 decision to freeze public sector pay and 2012's move to put a 1% cap on pay rises.

Members of the GMB union are striking across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. National Secretary Brian Strutton said: "Members serving school meals, cleaning streets, emptying bins, looking after the elderly, helping children in classrooms and in all the other vital roles serving our communities are fed up with being ignored and undervalued.

"Their pay has gone up only 1% since 2010 and in October even the national minimum wage will overtake local authority pay scales. Their case is reasonable, the employers won't listen and don't care, no wonder they have turned to strike action as the only way of making their voices heard. With other unions involved too, the 10 July looks like being the second biggest dispute ever with up to two million workers on strike."

According to the TUC, since the coalition took office in 2010, ministers have either frozen public sector pay or limited pay increases to well below the cost of living, leaving local government workers, NHS staff, teachers, firefighters, civil servants and other public servants on average £2,245 worse off in real terms.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Across the public sector workers are on strike today to say enough is enough. Year after year pay has failed to keep up with the cost of living. Public sector workers are on average more than £2,000 worse off under this government.

“Nearly half a million local government workers earn less than the living wage. But even as the economy starts to grow, ministers have told them that the pay cap will last until at least 2018.

“This is why today’s strikers deserve public support. They are saying that ordinary workers should not be locked out of the recovery, and that we should all get a fair share as the economy grows again.”

Many Tories are furious at the strikes. Richard Tracey, GLA Conservatives transport spokesman, said: “The government needs to get tougher with union barons, especially with public transport strikes.

"The UK may be bracing itself for a day of mass walkout, but there have already been 20 days of Tube strikes in London this year, the equivalent of almost a day a week. It’s barmy that power control room staff on the Underground are currently in the middle of a two week strike, despite earning £54k basic salary plus generous perks.

"Private sector workers such as cabbies, office secretaries or cleaners - on half the wage - wouldn’t be able to get away with it. The mayor needs to lobby for New York style, judge led, mediation, which would protect workers’ rights and stop commuters and businesses from being hit by chaos and loss of pay.”

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