Thousands of union members march through Truro

Thousands of union members have marched through the streets of Truro as a part of the public sector strikes.

Devon and Cornwall Police closed one lane of the city's main roads as the march made its way from Lemon Quay to Truro Cathedral.

The industrial action resulted in the closure, or partial closure, of 177 of the county's 274 schools.

The government criticised the public sector walkout over planned changes to pay and pensions.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said it was "unfair and unrealistic" to expect taxpayers to foot the increasing public sector pensions bill.

He accused the unions of wanting to "provide a platform for confrontation just when we all need to pull together".

But unions claim the changes would mean people working longer, paying more and receiving less when they retire.

Paramedic Danny Griffiths, who took part in the Truro rally, said his job was "tough enough" without being expected to work longer to reach retirement.

"It's just an impossible situation - we can't do it."

The NHS said less than 10% of health services staff in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly chose to join the strike.

Cornwall-based NHS providers, the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT), Peninsula Community Health (PCH) and Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, reported "manageable impacts" on services.

It said services at RCHT were largely unaffected with no impact on emergency care.

Some non-urgent areas provided a weekend level of service but outpatient clinics and surgery planned for the day went ahead as scheduled.

Christine Dayus, from Unison, said: "We're fighting for the pensioners of the future.

"It [the strike] isn't going to affect the sick and disabled because we've made appropriate arrangements with the trust to make sure that patients who need care today get their care."

Image caption More than 1,000 union members join the rally and march from the Hall for Cornwall to the cathedral

Some ambulance staff were also on strike, although there was cover for genuine emergencies.

Pete Hornsby, an ambulance technician from Saltash, said: "It's not a decision we take lightly, I've been in 22 years and I've never known us to take strike action or any industrial action during that time. It's totally unprecedented."

The Torpoint ferry, which takes cars between Devon and Cornwall, was closed as part of the action.

The council's contact centre, registration services and libraries operated with a reduced number of staff.

Bin collections

Sharon Foster, a Cornwall Council trading standards officer who struck, said: "This was one of the most difficult professional decisions I've had to make, but there comes a time when the government needs to listen, and this may be that time."

Bin collections were affected and householders were asked to take rubbish back in if it is uncollected.

Farmers were urged to check with their abattoirs before taking any livestock for slaughter as some workers are members of Unison, which voted to strike.

Details of which primary and secondary schools were affected are on the council's website.

Announcements of changes to services were made on the council's disruption website pages, on Twitter @CornwallCouncil and on local radio.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites