Teachers, junior doctors and tens of thousands of civil service employees are joining a major strike and protest today (Wednesday, March 15) as part of a ongoing dispute with the Government over pay and conditions.

The protest has been timed to fall on Budget Day and is thought to be the biggest day of industrial action so far since the campaign by the unions began last year. Many local union members are joining a mass march and demonstration in London.

Devon teachers joining strike

The National Education Union said well over 100 of its members in Devon would be travelling to the capital – some after staging picket lines outside their schools.

Devon NEU spokesman Mike Gurney said: “We very much regret that this third round of action has proved necessary but, given the government’s refusal to engage in any meaningful negotiations on the key issues, it has become inevitable.

“Devon members are going to London in unprecedented numbers on 15 March, which shows how strongly they support the action being taken.

“We are also asking the public and members to lobby their local MPs so that we can resolve this dispute, get a fully-funded and acceptable pay award and get back to the thing we do best, which is teaching children to help them on their way to a better life. We hope the Government will follow the lead of Scotland and Wales to bring a swift, fully-funded end to this dispute as a matter of urgency.”

Junior doctors' strike continues

Meanwhile junior doctors are entering the third day of their industrial action. The strike is affecting hospitals across Devon, and residents needing non-emergency treatment are being urged to seek advice from minor injury units or pharmacies rather than going to A&E.

Civil servants join the protest

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) represents workers in Government departments including HMRC, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Home Office, Land Registry and DVLA. Members are staging several protests in Devon, but these are taking place at the Government offices in locations such as Exeter, Plymouth and Torquay. Many other members will be joining the mass protest in London.

The PCS said the strike is a reminder that civil and public servants play a crucial role in all aspects of public life, helping citizens from cradle to grave. 

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “On Budget Day we’re asking Jeremy Hunt to give our hard-working members a fair pay rise. 

“We’ve been given a 2 per cent pay rise when food inflation was 16 per cent last week. 40,000 civil servants use food banks and 45,000 claim in-work benefits because they’re so poor. 

“The Government can stop these strikes today by putting money on the table for our members.”

Journalists fight BBC cuts

Meanwhile, BBC journalists are also taking industrial action today over cuts to regional radio, which will lead to less local news and programming. Employees at BBC Radio Devon in Plymouth are among those joining the 24-hour protest.