London pension strike
Demonstrators march past the Houses of Parliament during a protest over pension reforms in London. Olivia Harris / Reuters

As the long, mild autumn turns into a cold, harsh winter, it's not just the frost that's biting.

Cuts to public spending and a deepening crisis in the Eurozone have as good as frozen Britain's economic growth.

Unemployment is at 2.62 million, with over a million of those being young people. Inflation is 5 per cent, more than double the government's 2 per cent target.

Relations between government and unions are chillier than ever - and set to reach a bitter head.

On Wednesday, November 30, millions of public sector workers across Britain will walk out of their workplaces on what's billed as a "Day of Action".

Triggered by stagnant negotiations over pension reforms, with a backdrop of public sector cuts, unions say they are forced into taking industrial action, to make the government listen to their pleas.

The government says it's irresponsible to strike while negotiations are ongoing.

Some are saying the strikes will damage the British economy at a time when it is most vulnerable, and that Britain will be thrown into chaos.

How much of a disruption will these strikes really be?

Who is Going on Strike and Why

So far, 23 public sector unions have successfully balloted their members on strike action.

Among those are the National Union of Teachers and Unison, Britain's biggest union.

They're all striking over changes to their pensions, which will now be linked to their career average salary, rather than the current final salary arrangements.

The retirement age will also go up to 68, and employee pension contributions will increase - despite the public sector pay freeze.

Unions say they will work longer, pay more and get less out.

The government says public pensions need to be fairer to the taxpayer and that the old system is unaffordable.

There are concerns about how much of a mandate the unions really have from their ballots.

While their balloting of members was perfectly legitimate and conducted within the rules, in some cases turnout was as low as a third, meaning most of their members didn't cast a vote either way.

It's been mooted that the rules should change, so that strikes can only be legal if over 50 per cent of a union's total membership vote for it.

Unions say the government itself gets less than 50 per cent of the British population's vote, so it is in no place to criticise.

Cost and Contingency

The Treasury made the controversial claim that the total cost of the November 30 strikes could be as much as £500 million, from lost business hours, revenues and the like.

Unions say this is "fantasy economics".

While there will be some losses, wages do not have to be paid for the time a worker strikes, meaning the public sector will offset some losses with gains from a lower wage bill.

Local governments up and down the country will be hit fairly hard by strike action, as some of the staff in their key service areas - like social care - strike.

"Councils will have already put in place contingency arrangements to protect some of the most vulnerable in their area," Sarah Messenger, head of workforce at the LGA, told the Guardian.

Airports will be among the worst affected on Nov. 30, as UK Border Agency staff walk out. Huge staff shortages will cause massive queues at immigration and customs controls in aiports like Britain's largest, Heathrow.

Heathrow Airport has predicted 12 hour delays and along with Gatwick Airport is pleading with international airlines to halve the amount of passengers going through the airports on that day, to ease the pressure.

The NHS will also be hit by the action, though the Department of Health said it's experienced in staff shortages from incidents like the Swine Flu outbreak.

As such it already has contingency procedures in place.

Hospitals and clinics will be rescheduling non-urgent surgery and appointments, in order to prioritise those with pressing health care needs, like chemotherapy treatment or kidney dialysis.

Emergency departments will remain open on November 30.

No train operators have staff on strike as they are privately owned, which will mean that commuter travel is uninterrupted by industrial action.

Thousands of schools will inevitably close due to staff shortages, leaving working parents forced to find childcare, which can be costly, or to stay at home and look after their children.

Some may be able to work from home, though those looking after young children may be unable to do this.

What the Public and Politicians Think

A recent YouGov poll commissioned by The Sun newspaper showed 54 per cent of 1700 people surveyed opposing civil servants striking.

Just 34 per cent supported the action.

However the poll also showed that 46 per cent opposed the government's public sector pension plans, compared with 41% of support.

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat government is staunchly opposed to the strikes, saying they are "premature" as they are still in pensions talks with the unions.

Ed Miliband, the Labour Party leader, is in a difficult political position. He was only elected to be leader of the Labour Party because of the unions' backing against his brother David.

So as well as trying to find the public wavelength, Miliband must try not to upset unions.

He adopts a stance of opposing government pension proposals, while at the same time opposing the strikes as "wrong", citing similar reason as the government.

Miliband was even booed at a speech to the Trade Union Congress's annual conference in September.