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    • Two million public sector workers are on strike
    • Hundreds of rallies and marches across the country
    • Small amount of trouble in London, with 75 arrests
    • Schools closed, hospital appointments disrupted
    • Government says strikes are irresponsible


17:24 Much of the day's events across the country are winding, or have already wound, down.

The day has passed overwhelmingly peacefully, with a clear message from both the unions and the government.

Two million public sector workers who were out on strike today have made their point: we will not accept the government's offer on pensions and we will fight against you.

For the government, it was equally as succinct. Negotiations are ongoing, their offer is fair and the strikes are irresponsible.

While there was some disruption across the country, it was not as much a hammer-blow as feared - or, perhaps, as wanted by union bosses.

60 per cent of schools closed and thousands of NHS operations and appointments had to be rescheduled, which seem to be the worst of the disruption.

However scenes of 12-hour delays at Britain's airports did not transpire and inbound passengers, much to their relief, will have seen business as usual at the likes of Heathrow and Gatwick.

As the muddy rhetoric was slung from both sides, with words like "militant" and "anti-union" flying around, getting back around the negotiation tables may be difficult.

While the Tories and unions have never had a loving relationship, this has been a particularly dirty scrap, reopening old wounds from Thatcher's 1980s.

Can the two shake hands and make up?

Or is today the first of many "Days of Action" as the two beasts lock horns in the coming months?

Thanks for reading our live blog.

17:20 Police are now releasing people in the containment near Haymarket in central London.

The attempted occupation of Panton House was not directly linked with the strikes as it was carried out by Occupy London, though the group has been out supporting the unions today.

Statement from the Met on the day's events:

"The Trade Union led march and demonstration through central London today (Wednesday 30 November) has been a peaceful affair with participants exercising their right to protest.

"We would like to thank the organisers and the stewards for their support and work on the day in ensuring the march ended safely.

"Despite this a small number of groups unconnected to the main march came to commit crime.

"There have been 75 arrests during today's operation for a variety of offences.

"At around 15.40 a group entered Panton House, Panton Street, off Haymarket and went onto the roof. Shortly afterwards a containment was put in place in the area and 21 people were arrested in connection with this incident.

"Earlier today 37 demonstrators were arrested in Dalston Lane, E8 on suspicion of breach of the peace. Additional evidence has since been gathered and they have since been rearrested on suspicion of affray. They remain in custody.

"The policing operation is still very much in place but has been scaled down to reflect the end of the march and rally.

"In central London barriers that were put in place have been removed to allow London to return to normality.

"Elsewhere across London police have been dealing with localised pickets and events as well as everyday policing and emergency calls."

17:09 YouTube clip claiming to be from Charing Cross area showing a clash between some protesters and police. Warning: some strong language.

17:03 According to the Metropolitan Police, there have been a total of 52 arrests in connection with the protests across London. The containment near Haymarket, London, is ongoing.

16:59 The blog Political Scrapbook has picked up on a MailOnline poll showing 84 per cent support for the strikes, despite the Mail's staunch opposition to unions and industrial action.

16:36 Statement from Occupy London about the attempted takeover of Panton House:

"About 60 protestors gained entry into the offices of mining company Xstrata, a 'leading light' of the FTSE 100 and British industry to highlight the fact that CEO Mick Davies was the highest compensated CEO of all the FTSE 100 companies in the last year, when his companies had losses and the economy collapsed. He received £18,426,105 for his efforts.

"This comes in a year when the average pay rise of executives across FTSE 100 companies was 43%, with 'top' directors at 49%.

"Led by a samba band to the building from Piccadilly Circus, the protesters entered the HQ at 25-7 Haymarket, London, with the protesters chanting against the corporate greed of Mick and other executives, in support of all those striking for fair pensions for all today. The protestors also unfurled a banner saying "All power to the 99%" from the roof top.

"There are currently about 20 protesters inside - being held down on knees, of which many are women. There are a few hundred people kettled outside.

"The protesters today are making the connection between the slashing of private and public sector pensions, while supposed 'top' executives cash in by increasing their own pay levels, leaving many without pensions. These CEOs like Mick Davies lavishly secure their own futures while ignoring the security and wellbeing of their own workers.

"Mines have closed in Australia, South Africa and Spain within the last decade resulting in hundreds of workers in the last decade being laid off."

16:31 A YouTube video shows the (very loud) march in Manchester. Strikers in the north west took part in "One Noise at One" where they were encouraged to make as much noise as possible as part of their protests.

16:20 Student Caz Parra has tweeted from the police kettle:

"Not much happening at the #PantonSt kettle. The press are interviewing as many people as they can. Numbers are going down."

16:15 Just spoken to the Metropolitan Police who say at around 15:50 they put a containment on the Panton Street/Haymarket area to "prevent disorder by the protesters". Some protesters then entered the building and police are in the process of making arrests for "aggravated trespass".

16:01 Reports of some trouble on Panton Street near Picadilly Circus in London. Apparently some UK Uncut activists have stormed a building, with others saying they're being kept in a police kettle in the area.

Picture from Twitter user DanHancox, who says there's a red flar just been thrown into a building on Panton Street.

Panton House

Another picture, this from Globaliseresist, purports to show a police kettle on Panton Street.

Panton Street

Another photo from the same user shows people on the roof of Panton House.

Panton House protesters

15:59 Statement from Colin Matthews, Chief Executive Officer, BAA, on Heathrow Airport:

"Due to the effective contingency plans we put in place with airlines and the UK Border Agency, immigration queues are currently running at normal levels for Heathrow.

"As a result of the whole airport community working together over the past few days we have more immigration officers on duty and fewer passengers arriving than would otherwise be the case. That has put us in a better place to avoid the serious delays and widespread disruption at Heathrow that were projected last week.

"We have deployed hundreds of additional customer services staff within our terminals. They have given support to passengers, providing information, food, drink and children's activity packs. They have been equipped with iPads and BlackBerrys to keep passengers up to date. At this stage we are expecting Thursday to be busier than usual and we have put extra customer services staff on standby to support passengers."

15:48 Reuters picture from a march in Leeds:

Leeds march
Public service union demonstrators take part in a protest march in Leeds. Nigel Roddis / Reuters

15:40 "Every single person on strike today should be proud of yourselves.The millonaires in the gov't should be ashamed of themselves," said Mark Serwotka, leader of the PCS union, as he addressed the rally in London.

"They said this day would never happen but this is the best day for the trade union movement in generations."

15:35 The Cabinet Office has released the dates of 12 formal ministerial meetings with union representatives over the pensions dispute. They've also given details on future and planned meetings.

They're trying to counter claims this morning from Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, that talks were not ongoing.

15:15 Earlier today the Institute of Economic Affairs released a statement from its Director General Mark Littlewood.

"The truth is that those striking today are disproportionately the protected, privileged and well paid," Littlewood said.

"The issue at stake is whether those in relatively well paid jobs in the public sector should continue to have their enormously generous pension arrangements so heavily subsidised by those in the productive, private sector who earn less.

"Only if you believe that hairdressers, waitresses and bar staff should pay for the comfortable retirement of headmasters, police inspectors and doctors, could you sympathise with the industrial action being taken today.

"The government must not make any further concessions to the unions; they have already moved too far."

15:10 The Telegraph is reporting that Bob Crow, head of the RMT union, has told striking public sector workers on the Tyneside he "salutes" them

"Brothers and sisters, I want to salute you. There is not a thing moving on the Metro today or on the Tyne," he said.

"This Government wants to shift the balance of blame from the people that caused the austerity to the working man and woman.

"But it is the bankers and the bosses who have gambled with our country's future and you should not have to tolerate a worse pension and be forced to work longer to make up for their mistakes."

15:03 Our reporter Jamie Lewis is listening to the rally in London.

He reports Len McClusky, leader of the Unite union, telling the government to "get your sleazy hands off public sector workers".

McClusky also claims that 80 per cent of Labour party members support the strikes and that there are 50,000 protesters in London.

Ken Livingstone, Labour's candidate for London's mayoral elections, told the rally: ""Thatchers union laws crushed us ... on to victory on this one brothers and sisters."

14:51 Thousands have appeared in some of the major cities in the UK.

From Reuters, here's a picture of a Belfast march:

Belfast strike march
Demonstrators protest outside the City Hall in Belfast as part of the pensions strikes. Cathal McNaughton / Reuters.

14:44 "This is a false deal ... don't condemn us to pension poverty," said Cecilia Anim, Deputy President of the Royal College of Nursing, addressing the London rally.

14:40 Our reporter sends this picture of one of the strikers, apparently railing against "zombie banks".

Protest zombie placard

14:37 Lobby journalist Paul Waugh has tweeted the following, rather ironic, piece of news...

"Exclusive: the No.10 press officer who leads for Govt on strikes is...on strike. So not just junior staff who have joined #n30."

14:32 The rally on Victoria Embankment is now taking place.

Those gathered are being shown this light-hearted video from the TUC.

13:54 For a quick recap:

Two million public sector workers are on strike today against government changes to pensions, which unions say will leave them working longer, paying more and getting less out.

Airports have had little disruption from the walk-out of border staff and are working more or less as normal.

Hospitals have had to reschedule thousands of operations, while some ambulance services are finding it difficult to cope. London Ambulance Service is down to 58 per cent of its ambulance crews working today.

Almost 60 per cent of schools have closed.

In some cities there has been disruption on public transport, like in Newcastle where the metro service is not running.

Of 900 job centres, just 18 are closed.

On the whole, there hasn't been widespread disruption bringing Britain to a halt, as some had feared.

Rallies and marches are currently being held across the country.

In PMQs, Ed Miliband accused the government of attacking nurses and dinnerladies, while David Cameron called Ed Miliband "left-wing, weak and irresponsible" for his stance on the strikes.

13:45 Twitter user NasirAliHassan has posted this picture, showing a heavy policy presence in Trafalgar Square.

Police vans Traf Sq

13:27 Nick Grant, full-time secretary of the Ealing branch of the National Union of Teachers, spoke to Jamie Lewis.

Nick Grant
Nick Grant of Ealing NUT.

"We have no option but to stand up and fight for ourselves," he said.

13:11 Len McCluskey, head of the Unite union, told Sky News: "They've [the government] got to find a Plan B because Plan A is taking us into a downward spiral."

13:07 The Sky News Twitter poll is currently showing 71 per cent of reposndents (4047 at present) in favour of the strike action.

12:52 Jamie Lewis reports that there is a very large crowd now gathered in central London ahead of the rally at Victoria Embankment.

He sends this photo from near Lincoln's Inn Fields:

Pensions strike

12:40 Cabinet Officer Minister Francis Maude is making a statement to parliament on the strikes.

"Talks [with unions] are very much alive. They are intensive and making good progress," he told the Commons.

He said he's meeting with unions tomorrow and on Friday.

12:40 Manchester Police are saying that around 15,000 people have taken to the streets in the city, as a result of the strike action.

There's a rally at Whitworth Park.

12:35 Heathrow and Gatwick airports - the UK's largest two - are not currently reoprting any serious delays or problems as a result of the strikes.

Gatwick said that they've had a third of their scheduled inbound flights so far and have managed to get 9,000 passengers through border controls without any problems.

12:17 Jamie Lewis caught up with a member of the National Pensions Convention, who said he is lobbying against the "unscrupulous" government.

12:12 It's Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, and David Cameron is clashing with Ed Miliband.

Our reporter Tom Nicolson is following what's happening.

Miliband is "left wing and weak", Cameron says, about the opposition leader's stance on the strikes

Cameron was attacked by Miliband for not properly negotiating with unions over the pensions issue.

Miliband said Cameron is "too embarassed" by the truth that Britain faces 2.8million out of work next year.

Cameron said Miliband is taking the side of the unions.

He also called the strikes "a damp squib".

12:06 Our reporter Jamie Lewis spoke to Donald, a striking headteacher, at Lincoln's Inn Field in London:

11:53 Our reporter Jamie Lewis is at Lincoln's Inn Field for the start of the central London march down to Victoria Embankment, where there'll be a rally at 14:00. Protesters are assembling at 12:00.

He said there's a "reasonable" amount of people there already, and "lots and lots of police".

There's a good atmosphere, with colourful balloons, floats and placards, he adds.

Mark Serwotka, head of the PCS union, will address the rally.

11:39 Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the PCS union, told the BBC News channel that the government has "taken the choice" to get the budget deficit down in four years, and that they do not need to take such drastic action.

"When you make that choice, unemplpyment and suffering and misery are the price to pay," he said.

11:36 "If you're damaging the productive capacity of this country you're really doing huge damage to the fabric of the economy and that will last a long time and impact on all of us," Simon Walker, of the Institute of Directors, told the BBC.

11:30 The Cabinet Office has said that just 18 of 900 job centres in the UK have been closed due to strike action.

11:26 Rallies are taking place up and down the country at the moment, but one of the biggest is due to start at 13:30, when Brendan Barber, head of the TUC, will address a rally at the National Indoor Arena.

11:17 George Osborne gave an interview to Sky News a little earlier.

"I don't think this strike is going to achieve anything," he said.

"It's only going to damage the economy and potentially cost jobs, and I think what we're offering at the moment is a decent pension for the public sector, a much better pension than most people in the private sector could ever afford."

11:04 The Trades Union Congress (TUC) is claiming The Sun has pulled a 200 word article the paper asked TUC's head, Brendan Barber, to outline his case for the strikes.

"This government cancelled the tax on bankers' bonuses. Instead it has brought in a nurses', teachers' and lollipop ladies' tax," said Barber in his unpublished statement.

"This is what the increase in pension contributions - around £1,000 a year for a nurse - really means. It is not paying for pensions but going straight to the Treasury to fill the hole left by the bonus tax."

10:55 Called the Department of Education for latest school closure figures.

Closed: 58 per cent

Partially open: 13 per cent

Open: 13 per cent

Unsure of status: 16 per cent

They're expecting more accurate figures this afternoon.

10:51 Lots of police in the House of Commons today, according to lobby journalist Paul Waugh.

"I've never seen so many rozzers in Commons before. Wonder how #n30 would look if police cd strike re their own pay/pensions?" he tweets.

10:32 Leeds University and College Union (UCU) show their linguistic skills on placards at their picket line:

Leeds UCU
Leeds UCU at a picket line.

10:15 Labour leader Ed Miliband has tweeted about the strikes:

"I'm not going to condemn public servants who feel they're in impossible position. It is the Gov'ts failure that has led to today's strike."

Miliband is in a difficult political position. The reason he was elected to the Labour party was down to union support. However as a politician he has to try and find the public's wavelength.

Strikes aren't always popular, so he's walking a tightrope in trying to appease - or at least limit his annoyance of - both.

10:05 A picture from Twitter user MonkeyEatsPaint:

Big Ben protesters
Two strikers at a picket outside parliament.

10:00 UNISON are publishing messages on their website from their members on picket lines across the country.

This one's from Mary Smart, a Cambridge hospital receptionist, who's on a picket line:

"I've another ten years to work at least and there's not going to be a lot of pension when I retire. I just want to survive - I don't want my kids to have to bail me out. And then who will bail them out? Because the youths don't have jobs. It just keeps going on and on. It's an upside down pyramid."

09:56 None of the major airports are reporting any serious problems or delays so far, though this could change as the day gets busier.

Heathrow Airport, which officials had predicted could have suffered 12-hour delays because of the striking border agency staff, says it's currently operating as normal.

09:43 A selection of tweets from strike supporters:

"Unions: the people who brought you the weekend, capped working hours, employment rights, fair wages, pensions and ended child labour." - Shane Chowen

"Average female NHS worker's pension: £3,500. Average Managing Director's pension: £224,121. That's why we strike." - Dr Dusty

"Don't hate strikers if their pension is better than yours; join a union, and make yours better too. Race to the top, not the bottom." - Chris Coltrane

09:37 Francis Maude, Cabinet Office Minister, has just been on Sky News. He said the majority of public sector workers are working today, pointing out that six million people work in the public sector and only two million are striking.

He insisted the government's pensions offer is "fair" and that as life expectancy goes up, so should the retirment age.

Maude was asked what could be offered to the unions as an olive branch to come back around the negotiations table.

"We've made a really big offer," said Maude. "We've increased the generosity of the offer."

He added that they're still in talks and making progress, which makes the strikes "very frustrating".

09:31 An ongoing Sky News Twitter poll is currently showing 65 per cent of respondents (1398) in favour of the strikes.

09:25 Ed Balls, Labour's Shadow Chancellor, just told the BBC that "I don't like strikes, the country doesn't want strikes" but he "understands why people are angry" and has sympathy with them.

However he refused to be drawn on if he specifically supports the strikes or not.

09:00 The Unison General Secretary Dave Prentis and Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude have already had a spat this morning.

Prentis told the BBC's "Today" programme that there hadn't been any face-to-face negotiations between unions and the government since Nov. 2, saying negotiations were no longer ongoing.

Maude quickly dished out a statement claiming what Prentis said "simply isn't true".

"There were formal discussions with the civil service unions only yesterday and there will be formal discussions with the teaching unions tomorrow and health on Friday," said Maude.

"In addition, there are frequent informal contacts between the government and the TUC. Contrary to what is being claimed this morning, talks are very much ongoing, intensive and making good progress - and it is misleading to claim otherwise."

November 30 Strikes: Background Information

Two million public sector workers are downing tools today, in some of the biggest industrial action Britain has seen since the 1926 general strike.

Unions are striking over government proposals to change public sector pensions.

There are around 200 different events across the country, from marches, to rallies, to gigs.

Britain's public services face a difficult day. The NHS has had to reschedule some surgeries, most schools are closed leaving parents to make childcare arrangements and the military are being drafted in to man border controls.

Tensions between unions and the government were raised further still ahead of the strikes, by Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn statement on Nov. 29.

He announced a 1 per cent cap on public sector pay rises for the next two years, as the public sector pay freeze ends in 2012.

This is essentially a pay cut.

Unions reacted badly, calling Osborne "stubborn" and that he doesn't understand economics.