Nationwide Strike Protesting Pension Cuts Paralyzes Britain

Posted November 30th, 2011 at 6:15 am (UTC-5)
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More than two million workers in Britain are participating in a nationwide strike Wednesday to protest government plans to reduce public sector pensions, in what is expected to be the largest walkout in a generation.

Authorities are warning of long delays at London’s Heathrow Airport, where embassy staff have been flown in to replace striking passport control workers. Some airlines also cancelled flights into London in order to ease potential overcrowding.

Most state schools and public transit systems are closed for the day and many hospitals were only providing essential services. Dozens of rallies are also set to take place across the country.

Workers from more than 30 unions are protesting government plans to reduce a $185 billion budget deficit by reducing pension benefits, increasing pension contribution payments and forcing longer work hours.

The government says it will not be swayed by the strike because the current pension system is no longer affordable. Officials have warned unions that their action will cost the economy close to $800 million.