Public Workers Take To The Streets In England05:00
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Health workers demonstrate during a strike over pensions, outside St. Thomas' Hospital, London, Wednesday. (AP)
Health workers demonstrate during a strike over pensions, outside St. Thomas' Hospital, London, Wednesday. (AP)

Bristling under Britain's austerity program and new pension restrictions, thousands of public sector workers went on strike there Wednesday in what's being called the largest for a generation.

Labor unions said as many as 2 million public sector staff were joining the strike-- including U.K. border staff, teachers, hospital workers, weather forecasters, botanists, nuclear physicists and catering staff at the Houses of Parliament.

The one-day walkout has been called to oppose government demands that public sector staff work longer before receiving a pension and contribute more money each month - plans that are part of government austerity measures to get a grip on Britain's high borrowing levels.

Here's how the strike is impacting daily life in the U.K.:

  • London's Heathrow Airport was warning international travelers of delays, but airport managers said flights arriving from Asia, the U.S. and Europe were largely unaffected
  • More than half of England's 21,700 state schools were closed, and around three-quarters of schools in the U.K. could eventually be forced to shut early, the Cabinet Office said
  • Health officials said 60,000 non-urgent operations and appointments had been postponed in advance in England

Guest:

  • Rob Watson, BBC reporter in London

The Associated Press contributed reporting to this story.

This program aired on November 30, 2011.

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