Thousands of people took to the streets of Liverpool today to protest against government plans to revise public sector pensions.
The march was part of a country-wide strike by public sector staff, including teachers and health workers, with suggestions that as many as two million people did not go to work.
Police estimate 12,000 people joined the march from the Pier Head to St George’s Hall, where a rally was held. Union officials addressed a peaceful crowd, which remained in good spirits despite a large police presence.
Lynne Collins, North West delegate for UCU (University and College Union), was among those who welcomed the support they had received from the people of the city. She said: “The solidarity shown today has been fantastic. Everybody we have come across has supported the people on strike today.”
Carl Roper, National Organiser of the TUC (Trades
Union Congress), added on Twitter: “Liverpool
march applauded by shoppers as it goes.”
Public services throughout Liverpool were
disrupted. The majority of the city’s schoolchildren
were handed an unexpected day off as many schools
chose to close.
The Royal Liverpool Hospital was open despite a
picket line outside the main entrance, but many
non-essential operations had to be cancelled.
Roads across the city were also unusually quiet
as many motorists chose to stay at home, while
both tunnels were closed, which meant up to
95,000 motorists had to make alternative travel
arrangements between Liverpool and the Wirral.
Dave Thomas, a council worker, said: “This is
not just about pensions, it is about preserving the
future of my kids. I’m 57 and my working life is
"But things look really bad for the next generation
and we’ve got to change that, starting now.”
David Cameron and Ed Miliband clashed angrily
in the Commons earlier today over the industrial
action as the Prime Minister claimed the strike
looked “like something of a damp squib”.
The Conservative leader said his Labour counterpart
was being “irresponsible and weak” as he had only
just backed the march, with Miliband accusing the PM
of “spoiling for this fight” and said people have lost
faith because "he's not being straight".
Home Secretary Theresa May told the BBC she
recognises people are concerned about pensions but
that the government has made a "generous" offer and
going ahead with the strike is "irresponsible".
By Liam Deveney, Vegard Grott (main video), Amy Konate, Sarah Botham & Lene Brennodden
JMU Journalism Liverpool Life
More JMU Journalism stories
Vegard Grott's photo gallery
JMU Journalism TV reports from the protest; thousands protested against government pension reforms
Radio report by Lene Brennodden
Video report by Sarah Botham & Amy Konate
Pic: Vegard Grott