In pictures: Public sector strikes

Widespread strikes by public sector workers have been held across the UK following a series of rows with the government over pay, pensions and cuts.

Teachers, firefighters, librarians and council staff have been among those taking part in the industrial action, with a string of rallies held in cities across the UK.

Union leaders said more than a million workers had been expected to strike, with the government criticising a "handful" of leaders for the "irresponsible" action.

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Union marches and rallies have been held across the UK, including in Newcastle, where public sector workers marched through the city centre in protest.

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The biggest issue for workers has been a dispute over pay, after ministers froze public sector salaries in 2010 and introduced a 1% cap on pay rises in 2012 - which still remains in place.

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The Cabinet Office said one fifth of civil servants - or fewer than 90,000 workers - were on strike and that 717 Jobcentres were unaffected, with the "majority" of schools in England and Wales staying open.

However, thousands of pupils missed lessons as schools were closed and partially shut after teachers in the National Union of Teachers (NUT), including these in Bristol wearing masks resembling Education Secretary Michael Gove, went on strike.

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Almost 1,500 schools in England closed or partially closed, while more than 1,100 were shut or partially shut in Wales. The Department for Education said there was no justification for the strike.

Firefighters, including these Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members in Portsmouth, staged a nine-hour walkout in an ongoing row with the government over pay and pensions.

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The strikes, which included public sector workers in Brighton, were hailed as the biggest show of industrial action for three years and the largest since the coalition government came to power in 2010.

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The industrial action comes as the government said it planed to change union balloting laws and the cabinet office said a "handful of union leaders" had pushed for "irresponsible strike action".

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Union leaders, who addressed crowds in London's Trafalgar Square, hit back at the government by accusing it of "utter hypocrisy".

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