Union leaders warn of more strikes
Mark Serwotka, leader of the Public and Commercial Services union, said Government claims that some people would be better off after the reforms were a lie, adding that the coalition was "swimming against the tide" of public opinion over its austerity measures.
Police officers from all 43 forces across England and Wales donned black baseball caps with the words "Cuts are criminal", as they brought parts of central London to a standstill with a huge march. Police Federation chairman Paul McKeever told them: "We care very deeply about the communities that we serve. We have seen what happens when we have a Government that has given policing a very low priority."
Action by prison officers was described as unlawful by ministers, who warned they have considered court action. The Prison Officers Association (POA) said more than 80% of its members took part in protest meetings outside jails, whilst ensuring safety and security was maintained in all establishments.
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said: "The dedicated majority of public sector workers are working normally today and rigorous contingency plans are ensuring that nearly all key public services remain open as usual. Just 102,244 civil servants are on strike - down from 146,000 in November and dramatically lower than union claims."
The PCS said the Government's figures were "wildly inaccurate", claiming that almost 200,000 of its members walked out, as well as thousands from Unite, the University and College Union, the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance, the Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT), the POA and the Immigration Service Union.