Sussex

Striking workers in Brighton march over pension plans

More than 1,600 striking public sector workers have taken to the streets of Brighton in opposition to the government's pension plans.

Starting at The Level and ending in a rally at Hove Town Hall, protesters banged drums and waved banners.

More than 300 schools across East and West Sussex were affected by strikes involving two teaching unions.

Four people were arrested in Brighton for public nuisance and aggravated trespass not related to the rally.

Supt Steve Whitton, of Sussex Police, said: "A group of approximately 25 were responsible for an assault against staff in Churchill Square and disruption within Boots and Barclays Bank which prevented and obstructed staff and customers.

"This behaviour went beyond peaceful demonstrating and significantly infringed upon the rights of other members of the community who would expect us to act.

"We consider that this action was completely unrelated to the earlier demonstration and conducted by individuals who have little regard for the rights of others in the city."

Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) members are on strike at Gatwick, which said disruption was at a minimum.

The strike at the airport started at 1900 BST on Wednesday, and will end at midnight.

The airport said operations were mostly unaffected with only very slight delays of a few minutes.

It said contingency plans were in place to avoid any disruption to passengers, with additional staff on duty.

Partial closures

A spokeswoman also said a scheme to introduce automatic scanning for incoming EU passengers with biometric passports at the South Terminal had been brought forward by a couple of weeks to Thursday to alleviate any delays that might occur due to the strike action.

Up to 750,000 teachers, civil servants and other workers are on strike over planned pension changes they say will mean working longer and paying more, with disruption also hitting airports, job centres, driving test centres and courts.

Of these, an estimated 250,000 are members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which includes air traffic controllers, coastguards, prison officers and immigration staff.

In East Sussex 105 schools were disrupted, with a further 46 in Brighton and Hove. In West Sussex 166 schools experienced some form of industrial action.

Action is being taken by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, with pickets mounted outside some schools.

Image caption Striking public sector workers took to the streets in Brighton and Hove with banners and flags

"We know how difficult it is when schools shut for parents but with the government refusing to take negotiations seriously we have no other choice than to strike," said Phil Clarke, secretary of Lewes, Eastbourne and Wealden NUT.

At the march through Brighton and Hove, one banner carried by protesters read: "2,4,6,8, I'm not teaching that late," while another stated: "Gove, be a love, go back to school on this one."

Luke Stanger, 18, a University of Sussex politics and international relations student, said: "It's important that we unite and fight as many of the party actions as possible.

"Teachers have contributed to society for their whole lives and have done their bit for society. They deserve what they have earned throughout their careers.

Demonstrations were also planned at White Rock in Hastings and Steyne Gardens, Worthing.

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