The British government and public sector unions say talks aimed at heading off a major strike over pension reforms this week have made progress – but the two sides remain far apart.
The issue which brought protests earlier this year now looks set to cause widespread disruption on Thursday – and unions are warning of more to come later this year.
“That reflects the degree of anger and the degree of worry… real fear, that there is across everyone who works for public services that their pensions are under threat,” said Brendan Barber, leader of the TUC (Trades Union Congress).
Schools and government offices in England and Wales are set to close for a day. The strike involving perhaps three quarters of a million teachers and civil servants could also affect ports and airports.
The government wants to raise the pension age, alter the way pensions are calculated, and increase workers’ contributions.
Unions have warned of an eventual repeat of the 1926 general strike. But union membership and power have greatly declined and few believe a major conflict is likely.