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UK protest over pension reforms

Thursday, May 10, 2012 - 02:18

May 10 - Thousands of public sector workers have taken part in a 24-hour UK-wide strike over changes to pensions. Hayley Platt reports

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Hundreds of thousands of public sector workers across the UK take to the streets. They're staging a 24-hour strike over pension reforms. In London hospital staff were among those angry over the prospect of working longer and paying more. Britain's coalition government wants employees to contribute an average of 3.2 percent more - saving them 2.8 billion pounds by 2014. Unions say that's not fair. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JOHN COWIE, ENGINEER AT ST THOMAS' HOSPITAL AND UNITE UNION REPRESENTATIVE, SAYING: "The people who got us into this mess need to get us out of it. I mean, we're not going to get us out of this mess by the public sector workers paying the brunt of the austerity measures which seems to be the case at the moment." The protests come against the gloom of weak growth, mass public-sector layoffs and wage freezes. As they protested the Bank of England added - say some - to the gloom. It decided to halt to its programme of quantitative easing because inflation is still too high. That's despite the economy slipping back into recession and renewed risks from the euro zone debt crisis. The strike is the third one-day walkout in 12 months. 94 percent of union members voted against pension reforms which will see the retirement age rise three years to 68. Many compare their plight with Greece where workers were furious about a rise in retirement age from 60 to 62. . Union boss Mark Serwotka says Britain's government should take note. SOUNDBITE: Mark Serwotka, General Secretary PCS, saying (English): "People across Europe are voting against austerity. Last week the government were heavily defeated in the polls and to just pretend that everything can carry on is not good government. They should recognise today hundreds of thousands of people on strike, the police marching through London, strikes across the justice system. You don't go on strike lightly. The government should sit down and try to negotiate a settlement." But the government says it's sticking to its plan of austerity - however unpopular. That, say unions, means this walkout won't be the last. Hayley Platt, Reuters.

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UK protest over pension reforms

Thursday, May 10, 2012 - 02:18