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UK Train Drivers, Teachers Join Biggest Walkout in Decade
By Staff, Agencies
Teachers and train drivers are among half a million workers walking out Wednesday on the biggest strike day seen in Britain for more than a decade.
Civil servants, university lecturers, bus drivers and security guards will join picket lines, while protests are set to be held across the country against the government’s controversial plans to legally enforce minimum service levels during strikes.
Downing Street said 600 military personnel as well as civil servants and volunteers across government have been trained to fill the gaps in public services.
Paul Nowak, general secretary of the TUC, said a petition of more than 250,000 signatures opposing new so-called “anti-strike” laws will be delivered to Downing Street.
Britain’s public service workers are snared in long-running disputes over pay and conditions after a decade of cuts and pay freezes was followed by punishingly high inflation.
Around 200,000 teachers with the National Education Union are joining walkouts tomorrow for the first of their seven strike days. Some 23,000 schools and potentially millions of pupils will be affected.
Heathrow Airport said it is operating as normal with minimal queuing in immigration halls despite the strike by Border Force workers.
A spokeswoman for the airport said: “Heathrow is fully operational, passengers are flowing through the border smoothly with Border Force and the military contingency providing a good level of service for arriving passengers.
Relatedly, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has said she is “disappointed” that a strike by teachers in England and Wales is going ahead.
Keegan told Times Radio the industrial action was unnecessary as discussions with the unions were continuing.
“I am disappointed that it has come to this, that the unions have made this decision. It is not a last resort. We are still in discussions. Obviously, there is a lot of strike action today but this strike did not need to go ahead,” she said.
Keegan said she did not know how many schools would be forced to closed due to the industrial action.
Downing Street has conceded that Wednesday’s mass strike action will be “very difficult”.
Around half a million public service workers will walk out today including teachers, train drivers and civil servants.
Thousands of schools will be closed or partially closed and the bulk of Britain’s train network will be offline as talks to avoid the disruption failed.
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