Today, the entire UK public sector will grind to a halt as two million public sector workers down tools in a walkout set to cost the UK economy £500m. This, despite some observers commenting that less than one quarter of workers voted in favour of strike action following a row over public sector pensions.
Schools, airports, the NHS, Councils, the Government and Courts across the UK will all suffer as a direct result of the strike, with working parents being amongst the hardest hit.
Judith Fiddler founder and CEO of Direct Law & Personnel, a company who specialises in pensions, HR & employment law, says; “The strike action will have a devastating effect on working parents.
“The effects of losing a day’s childcare to most people will result in either having to find alternative care – bearing in mind, this will have to be with a registered childminder, most of which are booked up many months in advance or having to take the day out of work. Generally this far into the year, most people have used all their annual holidays.
“The knock-on effect of having to take sick days or unpaid leave can be devastating for families this close to Christmas. It is estimated that the total loss of this one day will be in the region of £500 million.”
The row was triggered after the Government proposed a 3.2 per cent point increase in pension contributions. The Hutton Report suggested that public sector workers will have to pay more and work longer to be entitled to the same sort of pension. However, this change in policy will only affect individuals will an annual income higher than £15,000.
Of the 1.1 million members of Unison – Britain’s biggest public sector trade union – only one third of members took part in the ballot, with just 78% voting in favour, meaning that we have imminent action triggered by less than a quarter of the union workforce.
Two million public sector workers will take part in the strike, resulting is the closure of 99% of schools in Scotland and 86.8 per cent of school closures and 11.5 per cent of partial closures in England.
Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury suggested taking his daughter into work because of the school closure and it seems that Mayor of London, Boris Johnson agrees: “As far as I’m concerned anyone should be able to bring the kids into work on Wednesday.”
What Boris doesn’t realise is that section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, states that any non-employees should not be exposed to risks of health and safety.
In what is being described as the biggest strike of our generation, the whole of the UK will suffer under the weight of losing our basic ‘services’. Brendan Barber, Head of the Trades Union Congress said: “The Government has managed to alienate its entire workforce.”
Travellers at London Heathrow Airport can expect 12 hour delays, whilst 57,000 NHS patients will be overlooked, as anyone booked in for a ‘non-urgent’ operation, outpatient or follow-up appointments can expect to have their booking cancelled or rescheduled.
Libraries, leisure centres, refuse collection and street cleaning will also be affected as local council workers strike.