PUBLIC sector workers took to the picket lines today.
Members of the University and College Union (UCU), Unite and the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) staged walkouts throughout Wearside and County Durham as part of a national day of action.
Disruption was expected at Sunderland University and Sunderland College, as well as public service buildings including job centres, pension and benefit centres, courts, customs and tax offices.
Picket lines were also outside revenue and customs offices in Washington and Sunderland, and the land registry and passport offices in Durham City.
The day of action, to be followed by another next month, is the unions’ response to Government proposals on pensions, which they claim will mean having to pay more into pensions every month, and up to eight years longer for a lower pension on retirement.
Gary Clark, PCS branch secretary for Waterview Park in Washington, said: “Today is a continuation of the protests and the industrial action we were forced to take last year.
“The situation is that despite our best efforts, the Government is not willing to return to the table for meaningful talks.
“We would much rather be sat around a table and discussing this in a sensible way than being stood here on a cold Thursday morning in the wind and the rain.”
There was also a picket line outside Durham’s Frankland high security prison.
Prison Officers’ Association general secretary Steve Gillan said: “The association has submitted a case to Government to support our view that it is unrealistic for prison officers to be automatically linked to the state pension age, which will ultimately rise to 68 years of age.
“Unfortunately, it has fallen on deaf ears and prison officers have no other option but to protest to gain public attention.”