About 20,000 police officers are expected to take part in a march in London as public sector workers stage fresh strikes in a bitter row with the government.
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The police officers, from 43 forces across England and Wales, will join the first police march in the capital for over four years, organisers claimed.
Meanwhile, up to 16,000 off-duty officers will wear black caps to show each officer who will be lost should the government’s budget cuts go through.
The officers have chosen to march or wear caps as police are banned from striking under law.
Union leaders said the strikes had been solidly supported with up to 400,000 workers, including immigration staff, job advisers and lecturers, involved in a series of demonstrations over pension reforms.
The government’s intention to press on with the controversial reforms was reiterated in the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday. Francis Maude, the cabinet office minister, said the strike was “futile” and insisted talks over pensions would not be held again.
Mr Maude said: “It is very disappointing that a handful of unions insist on carrying on with futile strike action which will benefit no one.
“We would urge these union leaders to reconsider their position. Pension talks will not be reopened and nothing further will be achieved through strike action.”
At Gatwick Airport, passengers were told they may experience delays at immigration.
A spokesman for the airport said: “Gatwick Airport has additional staff and volunteers on hand throughout the day in both terminals to assist Border Force colleagues and passengers.
“Our focus remains on minimising any potential disruption and ensuring our arriving passengers can get through the airport as quickly as possible.”
Elsewhere in London, community support workers and 999 call staff were out in big numbers. A spokesman confirmed there was “very strong” support for strike action from Border Agency staff at all airports and ports.
People looking to get in touch with HM Revenue and Customs have been greeted by recorded messages advising them to call another day, while the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) said there were reports of job centres and government offices being closed.
The PCS said early signs from picket lines suggested there was solid support for the strike, which is the third major round of industrial action taken by public sector workers in the last six months over pension reforms.
Protest meetings are being held by prison officers across England, Scotland and Wales against the government’s plans to link their normal pension age to the state’s pension age.
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