Prime Minster David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband have called on the four union leaders who are leading tomorrow's mass walk out to call the planned strike off. Ed Miliband has resisted the temptation to side with the unions and attack the government, knowing full well the strikes do not have the public backing. Although members of his shadow cabinet have backed the industrial action, Ed Miliband has called on the unions to call off the walk out whilst the two sides are still in negotiations over any reform of public sector pensions.
Both the Conservative leader and the Labour leader have told trade unions not to press ahead with tomorrow's planned strike action as details of the scale of the planned disruption becomes clear. The teachers will form the vast majority of the strike action with 200,000 members from the National Union of Teachers, 160,000 from Association of Teachers and Lecturers and 120,000 from University and College Union planning on walking out from 6pm tonight. Air traffic controllers, coast guards, prison workers and customs and immigration staff will join the walk out with the National Union of Teachers saying they expect 85 per cent of schools to be closed.
David Cameron has called on the strike to be called off and for the unions to return to the negotiating table to try and work together to negotiate a deal in regards to public sector pension reform. Mr Cameron told the unions the strikes were "wrong - for you, for the people you serve, for the good of the country. It's the changes we propose that are right." Insisting that the Government's proposals were a "good deal" on pensions, he told the Local Government Association conference in Birmingham that the balance between what public-sector employees paid into their pensions and what the taxpayer contributed was getting "massively out of kilter".
Mr Miliband issued his strongest condemnation of the strikes last night, after telling his Shadow Cabinet at its weekly meeting to sing from the same hymn sheet. At the weekend, frontbenchers Peter Hain and Sadiq Khan were less critical of the industrial action than the Labour leader. Calling for both sides to "think again" and return to the negotiating table, Mr Miliband said: "Strikes are a sign of failure on both sides and Thursday's industrial action is a mistake ... I understand why teachers are so angry with the Government. But I urge them to think about whether causing disruption in the classroom will help people understand their arguments.
The scale of the strike action has become clearer this morning as last night 3,206 schools had told authorities that they would be closed. 2,206 schools have told their authorities that they will be partially closed but some schools have not told their heads who will be turning up for work tomorrow morning.
Education Secretary Michael Gove has called the strikes 'premature, unnecessary and disruptive' while talks are going on between the government and union leaders. Mr Gove, who once joined a picket line when he was a journalist called on teachers and other public sector workers not to strike as it would cause 'serious damage' to the image of their profession.
A poll in this morning's Sun has shown that more oppose the strikes than support them, with 45 per cent of the poll saying that they would lose respect for teachers if they walked out tomorrow.
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