British Workers Retirement Benefits Strike
British workers outraged at pension reform
135,000 civil workers have gone on strike in Britain. They are protesting the British government's proposed pension reform which will reduce their retirement benefits. The strike has caused problems across the different public sectors including schools, health care and airport flights.
British workers living longer should contribute more
The strike is a result of the British government's plan to reduce retirement benefits in pensions in order to help reduce the country's debt. The argument behind the decision is that the average British citizen is living longer and putting more strain on the taxpayers. The answer to this by the government is for the public sector workers to pay more to their pensions while they also work longer. British Prime Minister David Cameron strongly supported the reform.
"We believe public sector pensions should be generous but as people live longer it's only right and only fair that you should make greater contributions."
British public sector workers outraged
The number of protesters across the country were counted around 135,000 by 11 am in the morning on Wednesday. Several sectors were affected by the strike. In the health care sector, all services except for emergency services have been reduced; it is estimated that 20% of the NHS workers are on strike. Meanwhile, 60% of the state-funded schools have been shut down in reaction to the strike. Airports and seaports have also been affected, though they are reported to still be running well enough.
British workers strike only the start
Negotiations between the British government and unions, despite rumors, are still ongoing. Union leaders very strongly defended that the workers should not be forced to pay more and work more for the same pension.
Brendan Barber, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said the unions were "sending a crystal clear message to the government that we are strong, that we are united, and that our campaign will go on until we secure justice and fairness for every public servant."
No one takes industrial action lightly, he said, "but when unfairness is piled on injustice you are right to take a stand and I am proud to stand with every single one of you."