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UK's largest strike in decades begins

11-30-2011 14:31 BJT

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More than 2 million British public sector workers have begun a 24-hour strike over the government's pension reforms. It's the country's largest walkout in decades.

The strike is being held by 30 unions and joined by teachers, Border Agency workers, doctors and nurses. It comes against a gloomy backdrop of faltering growth, rising unemployment, big public-sector lay-offs and wage freezes. Workers oppose the government's reforms that say they should work longer before receiving a pension, and contribute more towards it each month.

The strike is expected to force most schools to close and disrupt travellers at ports and airports. Arriving passengers could face delays of up to 12 hours at London's Heathrow airport. The UK government said on Tuesday that nine out of ten schools are expected to close. Ministers warn the strike could cost the economy up to 770 million US dollars. The government is flying home British embassy staff to help with border checks. Airlines are cutting flights into Heathrow because of the fears of long delays.

Prime Minister, David Cameron, insists he won't halt reforms and is urging unions to negotiate. The government says pension reform is vital as the system is no longer affordable, partly because people are living longer.

Unions say the reforms mean people will have to work longer and pay more for worse pensions. Workers across the public sector will be forced to contribute an average of 3.2 percent more annually to their pensions.

The government, which wants workers to receive pensions based on average earnings rather than final salaries, made a revised offer earlier this month. But it was rejected by the unions.

 

Editor:Liu Fang |Source: CNTV.CN

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