Hundreds in Rotherham pensions walkout

HUNDREDS of public sector workers walked out in Rotherham yesterday in a 24-hour UK-wide strike to defend their pensions in a dispute with the Government.

Unions say members are being “robbed” to reduce the Government’s deficit and will have to pay more and work longer for lower pensions.

The government says current pension schemes are unfair and unaffordable because people are living longer.

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Among the public sector workers taking part in the 24-hour strike are civil servants, NHS workers, border force staff and lecturers.

Train drivers belonging to the ASLEF union in the region also walked out for a day in their own dispute over pensions with East Midlands Trains.

Meanwhile, about 20,000 off-duty police officers, including a South Yorkshire contingent, joined a march and rally in London to protest against cuts.

Union leaders say up to 400,000 workers were on strike nationally while the government claims it is more likely to be half that number.

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The Public and Commercial Services union estimated that an “overwhelming majority” of its 250,000 public sector members walked out and said the cost of pensions was falling as a proportion of GDP.

The PCS condemned government's efforts “to divide people in the public and private sector.”

Government proposals to be considered in Parliament seek substantially increased employee contributions.

As well as increasing the retirement age, the government also proposes that final-salary schemes will eventually be replaced by cheaper career-average schemes.

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The Police Federation said officers, who are prevented by law from taking industrial action, were protesting against a reduction in the number of officers, a lack of consultation over plans for reform and pay and pensions.

The unions taking part in strikes were: PCS, Unite, representing NHS workers, Ministry of Defence firefighters and others; the University and College Union; the Immigration Services Union; Rail, Maritime and Transport union members in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, and the Northern Ireland Public Services Alliance.