Public Sector Strike: Suffolk & Norfolk
30 November 2011, 15:47
Nearly two million public sector workers have walked out over planned changes to their pensions.
The government says getting people to work longer for their pensions is the only way to pay for them, however, the Unions disagree. They say they are having to work longer for smaller pensions.
Around 450 schools have closed or partially closed in Suffolk and Norfolk today because of the strike.
Across the country, schools, courts, transport and hospitals including the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, were affected by the biggest strike in decades as teachers, nurses and civil servants joined weather forecasters and nuclear physicists on picket lines.
Unions said early indications were that the walkout was being solidly supported and predicted that November 30th would go down in history as the biggest day of industrial action since the 1979 Winter of Discontent.
The Government estimates around 400,000 nurses and healthcare assistants, paramedics, physiotherapists and support staff like cleaners and administrators have joined the action.
Many members of the unions Unison and Unite are taking part but the British Medical Association, Royal College of Nursing and Royal College of Midwives are not.
A spokeswoman from Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital said around 100 elective operations are normally performed each day.
Today, around 45 are being carried out, all of which are either operations for paediatric or cancer patients.
``Although we are doing everything possible to maintain services, unfortunately we are having to rearrange some patients' appointments and non-emergency procedures as a consequence of the industrial action,'' she said.
Thousands have also been taking part in marches and rallies across Norfolk and Suffolk, including places like Ipswich, Norwich, Bury St Edmunds, Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.
However, despite the strike action, the Prime Minister has called the day a 'damp squib'.
Updating MPs in the Commons on the impact of the strikes, Mr Cameron insisted talks were continuing with the trade unions.
He said: ``I do want to thank all those people, including a number of people from Number 10 Downing Street, who are actually helping to keep our borders open and to make sure Heathrow and Gatwick are working properly.
I can report that so far the evidence would suggest that around 40% of schools are open, less than a third of the civil service is actually striking.
At our borders the early signs are that the contingency measures are minimising the impact, we have full cover in terms of ambulance services, and only 18 of the 900 job centres are closed.
So despite the disappointment of the party opposite, who support irresponsible and damaging strikes, it looks like something of a damp squib.''
The Chancellor George Osbourne also said this morning that the strikes won't achieve anything.
Watch below to see some thousands taking part in the march through Norwich: