Statement by Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, about industrial action on 10 May 2012.
Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, said:
The dedicated majority of public sector workers are working normally today and rigorous contingency plans are ensuring that nearly all key public services remain open as usual.
We can now confirm that just 102,244 civil servants are on strike – down from 146,000 in November and dramatically lower than union claims; our borders have been managed without delays and staff in northern France have prevented 25 people attempting to evade our border controls; and this morning’s industrial action by prison officers is now over, staff are returning to work and our contingency measures were effective.
Nevertheless 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.
In March we set out our final proposed agreements on pension reform following more than a year of intensive discussions with trades unions. Our reforms ensure that public sector pensions will remain among the very best available and that they can be sustained for the future.
Public sector workers are being asked to work a bit longer and pay a bit more, but they will continue to get a guaranteed pension which is index-linked and inflation-proofed. Most staff on low and middle incomes will receive a pension at retirement as good as what they expect today, and for many it will be even better.
Update on public services
Early returns show that just 102,244 civil servants are on strike - down from 146,000 in November.
Overnight the borders have been managed without any delays, and we will continue to deploy staff to manage peak arrivals during the day. For example, staff in northern France have prevented 25 people attempting to evade our border controls by hiding in lorries and have been handed over to French authorities.
The Driving Standards Agency is urging all driving test candidates booked to take a test on Thursday 10 May to attend as usual. Theory tests are not affected and will be taking place as planned.
In the whole of the UK only nine out of just over 700 job centres are closed.
As Unite represent only 5% of NHS staff in England and Wales we expect minimal impact on services for patients.
All HMRC’s contact centres are open and taking calls. Most HMRC enquiry centres are also open for business.
This morning’s industrial action is now over and staff are returning to work. Our contingency measures were effective and I am grateful to those staff who kept our prisons safe today.
We have no reported disruption to Probation Services.
There are a total of 407 operational Courts and 97 Tribunals. There are currently 4 planned court closures, but the work of these courts has been diverted to other courts so services have not been affected.