According to reports hundreds of thousands of public sector workers have responded to calls by their unions to strike for the day.

The workers are protesting over the coalition government plans to cut jobs, freeze pay and change their pension arrangements meaning less money when they retire.

Areas that will be hit include schools and colleges, job centres, tax offices, the courts, prisons, the police, driving test centres, ports, airports, the coastguard service and even the Palace of Westminster (parliament).

This could well cause many problems for those of us that use these services. Driving tests delayed, court dates changed, people taking the day off work to look after children due to their school being closed.

That these workers are important will be evidenced by the level of disruption. But remember that short term measures are being taken by managers in order to limit these disruptions during this one day strike. Only a long term strike will really show how important these people are to our society. And that is something we can do without.

Also not all members of the unions concerned are striking. According to a Sky News report over 50% of the 290,000 PCS union members have turned up for work. But PCS says that 90% of DWP workers in job centres have gone on strike.

What has happened though is that the debate seems to have centred on pension changes. With that comes an attempt to compare public and private sector remuneration, which has then effectively pitted worker (public sector) against worker (private sector). All these workers are suffering for the actions of others (government and banks) but they are dividing themselves and making it easier for all of them to be conquered over pay, pensions and benefits.

As pointed out by the PCS union here [1], there may be other ways to deal with many of these issues. Especially by addressing tax justice and the £70 billion a year in tax evasion by 'large companies and wealthy individuals'.

[1] www.pcs.org.uk/en/campaigns/campaign-resources/there-is-an-alternative-the-case-against-cuts-in-public-spending.cfm#The_case_against_privatisation

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