Warning of further walkouts

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THOUSANDS of public sector workers across the North East walked out yesterday in a protest over pensions – and more industrial action could follow.

Courts, government offices, schools and Sunderland University were affected as unions including the PCS, NUT and ATL took part in the walk-out yesterday in the biggest strike for five years.

And union leaders are today predicting up to four million people could be involved in action in the autumn if the row over public sector pensions is not resolved.

Mark Taylor, PCS Revenue and Customs chairman for Northumberland and Durham, was on picket line duty outside Gilbridge House in Sunderland city centre yesterday.

He said: “We have been impressed by the public.

“A number of people have come down and wished us well, asking what it is about.

“We apologise to the public that we are being pushed into this corner but it is not something of our choosing or our making.”

Members of the PCS across the country today started a month-long ban on overtime.

Up to 6,000 people from across the region joined a rally in Newcastle to protest the cuts.

TUC regional secretary Kevin Rowan said: "It's a real show of strength because we have a fairly weak private sector, so any action by the Government is going to impact more on this region.”