Britain’s public sector ground to a halt today as hundreds of thousands of workers walked off the job in protest of changes to their pension plans. Roughly a third of the country’s schools had to close, with many of the rest running on skeleton staffs, the New York Times reports. Airports, sea ports, and several other government services were affected as well, while others, like courts and unemployment services, had contingencies in place to keep their doors open.
Unions think as many as 750,000 people may join the strike in protest of changes that could raise the retirement age for most public workers from 60 to 66. “Nobody wants to see our schools and job centers closed,” the head of the Trades Union Congress said. But “we will see this through until we reach a just and fair settlement.” The government’s minister on pension policy shot back that it was “absolutely unjustifiable” to close schools and force parents to miss work.