Hundreds of thousands of medical workers, teachers, border guards and other public sector employees went on strike Wednesday in Britain to protest government plans to reduce their pension benefits.
Most public schools and other services were closed Wednesday and many hospitals were only providing essential services.
But the intended gridlock at London’s Heathrow Airport, Europe’s largest, did not take place, mostly due to effective contingency plans. The government secured additional personnel to staff immigration desks.
Prime Minister David Cameron referred to the action as “something of damp squib,” and said it was not the biggest in 30 years as organizers had said it would be. But unions insist that up to about two million workers participated in the nationwide strike.
Workers from more than 30 unions protested government plans to reduce a $185 billion budget deficit by cutting pension benefits and introducing other austerity measures.
The government says the current pension system is no longer affordable and that people now live longer so it is only fair that they work longer.