Press release

UK remains open for business as vast majority of public servants ignore call to strike - evening update

Updated statement by Francis Maude about industrial action on 30 November 2011.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, said:

This evening I would like to thank the committed public sector workers who turned up to work today and delivered essential services. Nurses, teachers, job centre staff and many others came in as usual to keep the country running and we are very grateful for their dedication.

Our rigorous contingency planning has been working well. Throughout the day it has limited the impact of the strikes significantly and as a result the majority of key public services have remained open. 

Today’s strike was inappropriate, untimely and irresponsible, especially while talks are continuing. Responsibility for any disruption today lies squarely with union leaders.

We now know that in the health service only approximately 79,000 staff have not been at work today, which means that 85.5% of staff in NHS Trusts, Foundation Trusts, Ambulance Services and NHS Direct actually turned up today. In addition the border is still operating effectively with minimal disruption to those travelling today.

Update on public services

Civil Service

The final figure taking account of all shift patterns within the Civil Service shows that significantly less than a third of Civil Servants have taken part in strike action today, that’s 146,256.


There has been no serious disruption reported at UK border entry points. UK Borders are open and operating.

Currently there are no reports of excessive queues at any port. Additionally more staff than expected have turned up to work at some ports and airports and all UKBA buildings are open.

There have already been several seizures this morning, for example:

  • 1.5kg of cocaine found at Stansted

Job centres

In the whole of the UK only 14 job centres out of over 900 job centres and benefit delivery offices are closed.


Estimates show that around 79,000 people have not been at work today.  This is approximately 14.5% of staff in NHS Trusts, Foundation Trusts, Ambulance Services and NHS Direct - much lower than the anticipated 20% that the NHS had planned for.

In NHS London, NHS Midlands and East, and NHS South, no more than 10% of staff are off work, while figures from NHS North show that around 20% of staff are off work.  10% is only double the absence rate through annual leave or sickness on a typical day in the NHS.

Many hospitals are telling us that they are dealing with demand.  For example, some have said that no planned surgery has been cancelled and they have reported business as usual for all services but physiotherapy.


The current indication is that many heads, teachers and support staff have tried hard to keep schools open.
Latest data shows more schools were open than estimated with 30% open or partially open: 

  • State schools open: 16%
  • State schools partially open:14%
  • State schools closed: 62%
  • Schools for which the status is currently unknown: 8%

This information relates to state-funded schools in England, including Academies and Free Schools.

Local government

The average proportion of local government staff in England and Wales not in work today was 32 per cent. This equates to around 670,000 staff, out of a total of 2.1 million.

This information is calculated on the basis of estimates from 210 English and Welsh councils, a response rate of 56 per cent, and includes all local government staff including school staff. The proportion includes both those on strike and those not in work because of childcare or other issues - authorities were not able to separate the figures at this point.

Ministry of Justice


Probation Trusts are prioritising essential work to protect the public.


Where possible public sector prisons are running as full a regime as possible. Any disruption to routines is minimal.

Notes to editors

1. For information about public services please visit

Updates to this page

Published 30 November 2011