Wednesday, 30 November 2011

A group of Russian navy ships goes to trip

November 30, 2011

Ships, headed by the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, will set off on a long trip in December. For some time, it will stop in the Syrian port of Tartus, where a Russian navy base is situated.
A group of Russian navy ships goes to trip

Russian army commanders deny that this plan has any political character. However, experts say that the presence of Russian navy ships in the region can make some people in the West, who are insisting that Syria’s current president Bashar al-Assad must be ousted by any means, even by force if there is no other way, think twice.

According to the Russian military, this journey is part of the maneuvers which have been planned long ago. In November, the crews of these ships held several missile and artillery shootings, and Admiral Kuznetsov took a group of fighter planes and helicopters on board.

In an interview to the Voice of Russia, a spokesman for the Russian Western military district Vadim Serga assured the interviewer that all the information about this trip will be available to journalists. However, Mr. Serga refused to answer what the aim of this trip is.

The base in Tartus is the only Russian navy base which is situated neither in Russia nor in any of the former Soviet states. It is used by the Russian Black Sea fleet. However, there are no Russian ships at this base at present.

Recently, a group of US navy ships appeared near Syria’s coast. One of them is a nuclear aircraft carrier of the latest generation, named “George Bush”.

However, the Russian military deny that the sending of Russian ships to Tartus is Russia’s answer to the US presence in the region, for the trip was planned back in 2010, even before the beginning of the current unrest in Syria. Still, whatever Russia’s plans initially were, in the current situation, the presence of Russian ships near Syria’s coast may hamper the US’s plans to interfere in the Syrian revolution with force.

Interviewed by the Voice of Russia, political observer Vladimir Evseev said:

“The appearance of the Russian ships near Syria’s Mediterranean coast, whatever Russia’s plans really are, will surely be taken by the West as Russia’s attempt to stop the US from starting a military operation in Syria. At least, with the presence of an aircraft carrier like Admiral Kuiznetsov in the region, the US will hardly dare to start an operation at sea.”

“Speaking about the Syrian uprising,” Mr. Evseev continues, “… well, I won’t even call it a revolution, for the group which started it is not backed by the majority of Syrians. I’m sure that if democratic elections were now held in Syria, these oppositionists woudln’t get the majority of votes. The oppositionists themselves realize quite well that their chances to come to power in a democratic way are small and that their only chance is to try to seize power by force. However, we have reliable information that opponents of President Assad in Syria are backed by Turkey, France and some other countries.”

“If it becomes necessary, Russian ships may start to constantly watch Syria’s coast,” Vladimir Evseev adds.

Russia’s authorities rule out any use of force by the Russian fleet against the American one. However, even a peaceful presence of the two fleets in the region may aggravate relations between Russia and the US.

Russian military expert Victor Baranets says:

“Russia’s view on the situation in Syria is different from the position of the US and NATO, and Russian and US diplomats have already exchanged some prickly statements about this. The situation is already rather aggravated. However, there are signs that in Syria itself, both the government and the opposition are starting to realize that the only way to settle the conflict is peaceful negotiations. If Russian ships come to the region, it may give both the Syrian opposition and the US military another reason to think twice before using force.”

The aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov will be accompanied by the submarine chaser Admiral Chabanenko. Later, the escort vessel Ladny will join them. Besides maneuvers on water, it is also planned to hold flights of the deck-based aircraft. However, the maneuvers will be held at a rather long distance from Syria’s coast.

Live and latest: UK National Strike

Fiona, from Southend on Sea, 
writes: There are more people on strike in my workplace than there are members of the Union.

No disruption is being reported at Lu
ton, London City, Stansted and Gatwick airports, where managers say immigration areas are operating smoothly.  
The Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna says on the BBC's Daily Politics that David Cameron has to be "very very careful" in the language he uses to describe those on strike. He says the PM is in a sense the "father to the nation" and his tone is wrong.
  1. 1248: 
    "I have huge respect for the dedicated women and men who keep our public services running. They deserve to retire on decent pensions - our reforms will ensure that," Mr Maude says.
  2. 1247: 
    Chloie Fraser sent in this photo of the march in Edinburgh.
    Marchers in Edinburgh
  3. 1246: 
    135,000 civil servants - not much more than a quarter - are on strike, Mr Maude says.
  4. 1244: 
    "It's simply not true to say the government is not negotiating and I was surprised to hear the leader of the opposition say that," Mr Maude says.
  5. 1243: 
    "The offer on the table is by any standards a generous one," Mr Maude says.
  6. 1242: 
    The BBC's David Keller clarifies that hundreds of people are protesting in Norwich, rather than thousands.
  7. 1241:BREAKING NEWS 
    Scotland Yard says two protesters were arrested after a woman police support officer was assaulted in clashes surrounding strikes at Hackney bus garage, north London.
  8. 1241: 
    Mr Maude explains the government's case for change - longer life expectancy in particular. He also discusses the more generous offer that ministers made earlier this month, which he says will do more to protect the lowest paid workers.
    BBC News Facebook page comment: "Chris Ivory says, "Cameron resorts to personal attacks and the unions as if they are the devil incarnate. So he has no argument. His behaviour today will lose him many votes.
  10. 1240: 
    He says the strike is about long overdue reforms to pension schemes and industrial action while talks are still ongoing is "just plain wrong".
    BBC News website reader 
    comments on the BBC's strike story: I'm non-striking public sector. I can't even answer the phones today for risk of strike breaking. Pathetic.
  12. 1239: 
    He begins by thanking "the majority of public sector workers who have turned up to work today".
  13. 1239: 
    PMQs is over and Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude is on his feet. He's giving an update to the House on the strikes.
  14. 1238: 
    Scottish TUC General Secretary Graeme Smith says he hopes the strike campaign will not be protracted but adds: "If the government doesn't see sense and doesn't get back to some serious and fair negotiations, then I'm afraid this may be just the start."
  15. 1236: 
    Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband clashed over the public sector strikes during PMQs. Watch the heated exchange here.
  16. 1235: 
    Over two hundred people have gathered in the town square for rally at 1230. Many are blowing whistles or vuvuzelas, says the BBC's Neil Smith in Barrow.
  17. 1232: 
    Police estimate 3,500 people are taking part in a march in Brighton as part of today's public sector strike. Unions had earlier forecast that up to 10,000 would take part, says the BBC's Chris Bennett.
  18. 1232: 
    About 3,000 people attend a rally at St James Park in Exeter after many marched from the city's Cathedral Green, says the BBC's Bethany Rose.
  19. 1229: 
    Town halls are the focal point of demonstrations in many parts of the country, like this one in Lambeth, south London.
    Pickets outside Lambeth Town Hall, south London
    Matt, from London, 
    texts: I work in an educational institution in south east London. In my building out of around 70 staff, only 8 are in work. I may be in but fully behind the strike action taken today.
  21. 1228: 
    "Thousands of people have started to rally outside City Hall in Norwich where bands are playing and speeches being made. Crowd chanting along to Bob Marley - 'Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights'," says the BBC's David Keller.
  22. 1228: 
    In Scotland about 500 operations - a fifth of the total - are cancelled, with more than 4,000 appointments scapped. Some 5,500 operations are cancelled in England, along with 40,000 outpatient appointments and 12,000 diagnostic tests. We are still waiting for figures from Northern Ireland.
  23. 1 strike and only 18 Job Centres closed.
    BBC News Facebook page comment: Eileen Ross writes, "Cameron says we are hurting the poor people by striking - doesn't he know it is the poor people who are striking to save their pensions?"
  25. 1223: 
    Latest figures highlighting the impact on the NHS. About 6,000 of some 30,000 routine operations have been cancelled, the BBC understands. That includes 400 in Wales, where 7,000 outpatients appointments have been cancelled or delayed.
    Salman Khan, from Sheffield, 
    tweets: I'm a 23 year old trainee teacher and I do not support the strikes at this time. Let Govt finish negotiations THEN strike.
  27. 1218: 
    Mr Cameron replies by attacking Mr Miliband for taking the side of striking workers causing disruption across the country. To Labour backbenchers, he says: "They're all shouting in unison. Or should that be shouting on behalf of Unison."
  28. 1218: 
    BBC Cambridgeshire reports that the 7,000 people expected in Cambridge have not materialised. About 600 to 800 are rallying there.
    Karen from Yorkshire 
    tweets: Sneaked in back entrance at work. Resent being made to feel uncomfortable by colleagues who would normally be friendly.
  30. 1216: 
    "Marchers use umbrellas to stop police officer taking pictures of protesters. Police officer retreats," says the BBC's Nick Tarver in Brighton.
  31. 1215: 
    Mr Cameron says independent assessments show more people will be in work and the claimant count for unemployment benefit will be lower at the next Autumn Statement than at present.
    1212: Vicki Young Political correspondent, BBC News 
    It's clear that Ed Miliband's tactic is to paint the Chancellor as out of touch with low paid workers while Mr Cameron's response is to accuse Labour of being in the pocket of the unions.
  33. 1213: 
    Mr Miliband accuses the prime minister of not understanding his own policy - not understanding the impact on women and children. He accuses the PM of "cooking up a deal" with the Deputy PM Nick Clegg to cut a billion pounds from tax credit.
    Carl Roper , TUC National Organiser,
    tweets: Liverpool march applauded by shoppers as it goes #Nov30
    The BBC's Mike Sergeanttweets: #strike #n30 Westminster City Council says "business as usual" for most services. But 43 schools affected; 13 libraries closed.
    1210: Vicki Young Political correspondent, BBC News 
    at PMQs: These are the most furious exchanges for weeks. David Cameron and Ed Miliband using very personal attacks on each other.
  37. 1211: 
    As many as 7,000 people are gathered in Leeds, says the BBC's Trevor Gibbons. Meanwhile, reporter Amber Henshaw says about 120 people have arrived for a rally in Shrewsbury.
  38. 1210:BREAKING NEWS 
    Mr Cameron says Mr Miliband backs the strike now - unlike earlier - "because he's left-wing, irresponsible and weak".
  39. 1208:BREAKING NEWS 
    Labour leader Ed Miliband accuses the prime minister of "spoiling for this fight" over public sector pensions and says people have lost faith because "he's not being straight".
  40. 1208: 
    In Worcester, marchers reach Angel Place and gather in Tramps nightclub for the rally, says the BBC's Julia Leonard. Meanwhile, police in Sheffield estimate the numbers gathered there at up to 6,000.
  41. 1208: 
    Mr Cameron says they're striking because they disagree with the pension changes - but these changes are vital. He says workers have walked out while talks are still ongoing. He reminds Ed Miliband that earlier this year he too said strikes were wrong while talks were continuing.
  42. 1207: 
    Labour leader Ed Miliband quotes a headteacher who was highlighted by the PM in June for not going on strike then. Mr Miliband said she was on strike today and had given the reason for her change of mind on no longer having faith in the government. He asks why so many decent public sector workers feel the government isn't listening.
  43. 1205: 
    It's a quiet scene at Belfast's Central Station, where services are cancelled.
    A sign warning passengers there are no services from Belfast's Central Station
  44. 1202: 
    David Cameron is taking Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons. He is bound to be asked about today's strike.
  45. 1200: 
    London mayor Boris Johnson tells the BBC the strikes "won't make a bean of difference" to the outcome of negotiations. "[It] is regrettable and wrong. It's exactly what this country doesn't need in tough financial times."
    Chris Moffitt, from Nottingham, 
    tweets: Crossed picket line at Nottingham NHS site. Experienced abuse. Ppl need to think b4 they speak, as support the action.
  47. 1159: 
    More from the rallies around the country. More than 3,000 protesters gather at Liverpool's Pier Head for the start of the march, according to the BBC's Julia Houston. Meanwhile, police in Sheffield say 3,500 people have gathered in the city centre.
  48. 1154: 
    Strikers around the country are setting off on their protest marches. In Birmingham, they are "10 or 12 deep" as they make their way up Lionel Street, according to the BBC's Emma Kasprzak.
    Paul Schagen, from Manchester, 
    writes: I work for an immigration tribunal in Manchester city centre. I am on strike today. There are people crossing the picket line but they are still showing us support. I will probably have to pull out of the pension scheme which will mean I will be a drain on society financially when I'm older.
  50. 1153: 
    Terminal 3 at Heathrow Airport looks quieter than usual.
    Terminal 3 at Heathrow
  51. 1146: 
    An update on the school situation: In Wales, more than 1,500 out of 1,776 schools have closed their doors. In East Sussex, 117 were fully closed and 27 partly shut. In West Sussex, the county council said 141 were either fully or partly closed.
  52. 1145: Simon Dedman, BBC News 
    Over 1000 strikers begin their march through Birmingham.
    Sussex Police 
    tweet: Total number of people marching or at assembly point in #Brighton is around 2500 #nov30
  54. 1145: Vicki Young, Political Correspondent
    says a small number of Downing Street staff have gone on strike, while others have been affected by school closures. There was no take up of the offer of a creche facility in Downing Street, and Mr Cameron's son is at a friend's house.
    1136: Lee Kerry, from Gravesend,
    writes: I have worked in local government for 32 years now and we have all contributed to our pensions. Most private sector workers have made very little allowance for their retirement and so make the arguments based on jealousy & sour grapes.
  56. 1131: Julia Leonard, BBC News 
    Steel drums and glockenspiels have started as public sector workers gather for the start of the rally on Mealcheapen Street in Worcester. Union branch leaders say there are expecting "at least 300 people" to turn out.
  57. 1128: James Shaw, Radio 5 live 
    says 11 big rallies taking place across Scotland. Members of Parliament, including Labour and Green party MPs, will be taking part in the action outside the Scottish Parliament.
  58. 1127: 
    The Cabinet Office adds probation trusts are prioritising essential work to protect the public, and where possible public sector prisons are running as full a regime as possible.
  59. 1126: 
    First Minister Alex Salmond speaks to picketers outside the Scottish Parliament.
    First Minister Alex Salmond speaks to picketers outside the Scottish Parliament.
  60. 1125:BREAKING NEWS 
    The Cabinet Office says in the whole of the UK only 18 job centres out of over 900 are closed.
  61. 1123: 
    Unite general secretary Len McCluskey says: "Working people are being asked to pay for the economic mess caused by the greedy City elite whose behaviour this spineless government has repeatedly failed to tackle".
    Jen, from Oxfordshire, 
    tweets: Joined Unison today. Can't #strike today, but I certainly will if there's another one. Today, donating to the hardship fund instead.
  63. 1117: James Vincent, BBC News 
    Police say around 500 people are marching along Division Street in the city centre. Demonstration planned for 1200 GMT
  64. 1115:BREAKING NEWS 
    The Department of Health has told NHS trusts in England they must not release figures regarding staff on strike or the number of cancelled operations and appointments. A letter sent out by the DoH says a "national position" statement must be sent to the media ahead of any regional breakdowns.
  65. BBC News Facebook page comment: Jules Woodhell says, "I am self employed but have taken today off and will join the strikers on their march and rally."
  66. BBC News Facebook page comment: Dominic Bosher writes, "At least they have jobs, with a million young people unemployed stop being so ungrateful and get back to work."
  67. 1110: 
    A UK Border Agency spokesperson says the security of the UK border remains its "top priority". He says: "Early signs show our contingency plans are minimising the impact of strike action, but waiting times at some ports may still be slightly longer than normal."
  68. 1105: Lynette Horsburgh, BBC News 
    Unison health rep Tim Ellis says around 1000 people have gathered at Bolton Town Square and describes the mood as "buoyant".
  69. BREAKING NEWS Jon Manel, BBC's Radio 4
    The Cabinet Office says according to "early indications", significantly less than a third of civil servants are taking strike action today.
  70. 1101:BREAKING NEWS Mike Sergeant, Local Government Correspondent 
    tweets: Met Police say 4 arrests so far in London ahead of the march. 2 for assaulting an officer; 2 for possession of a weapon.
  71. 1100: 
    Marches are due to take place all round the UK later, the largest predicted in London's Lincoln's Inn Fields.
    striker at London's Lincoln's Inn Fields
  72. 1056: 
    The Scottish Parliament says about half of its employees are absent. It employs about 450 staff. A rally will take place outside the building after strikers march down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.
    BBC News website reader 
    comments on the the BBC's strike story: I am 42 years old; have worked more than 20 years earning way lower than the national average. I am not a parasite draining the public purse but a tax payer contributing to a pension too, probably like many in the private sector
    BBC News website reader Sushimo
    comments on the BBC's strike story: 67 years old, still working due to meager pension and will continue until he cannot lift his tools anymore, nor clamber over roofs to fix them. This is the reality of my man working in the private sector. Sympathy for this bunch? You have to be joking!!
  75. 1053: 
    A bus carrying union members drives through Parliament Square in central London.
    A bus carrying union members drives through Parliament Square in central London November 30, 2011.
  76. 1052: 
    In south-west England, Bristol airport is operating normally but the Torpoint ferry, which takes cars between Devon and Cornwall, is closed. The Dartmouth Lower Ferry, which is operated by South Hams District Council, is also closed.
  77. 1052: Jeremy Ball, BBC News 
    There are picket lines at the British Geological Survey and Environment Agency in Nottinghamshire.
  78. 1047: 
    PCS Member Diane Burton, who works for the UK Border Agency, pickets outside her office in Liverpool.
    PCS Member Diane Burton who works for the UK Border Agency strikes outside their office in Liverpool
    Philip, from Hackney 
    tweets: Many don't even seem to understand that the strike is about defending what was already promised, not about asking for more. #strike #solidarity #n30
  80. 1047: Harriet Noble, BBC News 
    From London City Airport: No impact thus far, there are no delays and queues as normal. They are monitoring the situation, and hoping that disruption remains normal. All immigration desks are fully manned, and expect them to continue to be so throughout the day.
  81. 1046:BREAKING NEWS 
    In Scotland only 30 of the 2,700 council-run schools are believed to be open due to action by teaching unions. The figures come from the local authority body, Cosla. It's the first national strike for more than 20 years by Scotland's largest teaching union, the EIS.
  82. 1045:BREAKING NEWS 
    Simon Walker, of the Institute of Directors, tells the BBC the strike is doing "significant damage" to the economy. "If you're damaging the productive capacity of this country you're really doing huge damage to the fabric of the economy and that will last a long time and impact on all of us," he says.
  83. 1039: Jon Sopel BBC News 
    at London's Lincoln 's Inn Fields, says between 8,000 to 10,000 people are expected at the march in the capital later.
    BBC News Facebook pagecomments: Mike Slade writes, "Well my recycling bin hasn't been emptied this morning but I don't mind, they have an important cause to stand up for."
  85. 1036: 
    BBC News Facebook page comment: Tony Hoyle writes, "Seems they're striking for more when everyone else is learning to live on less. Don't see what they're trying to achieve - the government isn't going to increase their pensions just because the bins weren't collected for a day."
  86. 1036: Patrick Howse, BBC News 
    An update from Northern Ireland. The Belfast Trust, the largest health trust in NI, says that 3,500 appointments have been postponed. Around two-thirds of Northern Ireland's schools are closed.
  87. 1034: 
    A quick look at the Eurotunnel and Eurostar now. Eurotunnel says there are no delays or backlog at present, while Eurostar says there are no delays and it is not expecting any trouble.
  88. 1034: 
    Teacher Niamh Sweeney explains why she is striking over 'too many pension reforms' and how she'd struggle to find the extra money for her pension fund.
    London Ambulance Service tells BBC London 94.9: "We are struggling". About 73% of control room staff are working 58% of crews are working. Assistant Chief Ambulance Officer John Pooley says: "If you have something that isn't life-threatening the chances are you will not get an ambulance today so please think very seriously before you call us".
  90. 1031: Nick Traver, BBC News 
    Outside the University of Brighton, principal lecturer in philosophy, Tom Hickey, in the picket line, says the pension situation is "an attack on our lives" . He says "everyone is united that the government is not going to steal our pensions to pay for a bankers crisis".
    Picket line outside Brighton University
  91. 1030: 
    Marches involving more than 1,000 protesters will be taking place in Oxford and Reading this afternoon, Thames Valley Police says.
  92. 1026:BREAKING NEWS Chris Bennett, BBC News
    South East Coast Ambulance Service say the strike is having a "significant impact" on services. They say they are now only responding to "life-threatening emergencies".
  93. 1025: Matt Cole, Europe Correspondent 
    Have just landed from Brussels at LHR terminal 1. Have never seen it so quiet. Scores of purple jacketed helpers are standing around virtually redundant. They're clutching ipads and blackberries to help inform passengers, but their only role for now is to usher passengers through the deserted passport hall. My passport was checked by a woman who usually works for HMRC. She said it had been quiet all morning.
  94. 1024: 
    Public sector workers man a picket line at the entrance to the Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert, Scotland.
    Public sector workers man a picket line at the entrance to the Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert, Scotland
  95. 1023: Annette Bartholomew, BBC News
    Hundreds of strikers are starting to gather outside Gateshead Civic Centre ahead of mass rally. The protest will leave for Newcastle in next hour.
  96. 1020: Sitala Peek, BBC News 
    There are no cremations or burials taking place in Stoke-on-Trent. Elsewhere in the city, a handful of council workers have agreed to staff a registry office wedding that was booked before the strike date was announced. The council says there will be no picket lines outside the registry office.
  97. 1018: 
    There was little support for the strike fromthese small business owners who spoke to the BBC's Richard Westcott.
  98. 1018: 
    Metro trains are parked up at Gosforth, Newcastle, as the industrial action hits the transport system in the North East.
    Metro trains parked up at Gosforth, Newcastle as the industrial action hits the transport system in the North East.
  99. 1015: 
    Radio 5 Live is covering the latest from the strikes across the UK. Victoria Derbyshire is live right now, and you can listen back to a strike special with Tony Livesey here.
  100. Tony Brown, BBC News 
    Ten people are manning a picket line at the Old Bailey.
  101. 1012: Sue Nicholson, BBC News 
    There are 230 fully or partially closed schools across Kent - out of a total of 592. And in Medway, 79 schools have been affected out of a total of 109.
  102. 1012:BREAKING NEWS 
    A sum up of the airport situation. Chief Operating Officer Scott Stanley from Gatwick says passengers are still passing through border controls with no delay, passengers at Heathrow Airport are also largely unaffected and Birmingham Airport says it's business as usual.
  103. 1008: 
    UK Border Agency worker Kevin Mills, 48, at Dover, says he is only asking for the government to protect the pensions they had been promised. "Last year I had 12 years to go until retirement and now I have 19 years. It's going to cost me over £1,000 a year to pay into it and I'm probably going to get £1,000 a year less for it if I live long enough to receive it," he says.
  104. 1004: 
    We've heard a lot of opposing views about today's strike action. Make up your own mind with our piece on public and private sector pensions compared.
    Prospect Union tweets: #n30 We estimate 90% of Prospect members in the Office of Rail Regulation are on #strike today.
    Karl, from the Wirral, 
    texts: Both Mersey Tunnels are closed today so decided not to do a 60 Mile detour to get to work today.
  107. 1000: Alison Hodgkins-Brown, BBC News 
    The National Union of Teachers says it believes over 400 schools are closed or partially shut in Essex today.
    Linda, from Scotland, 
    texts: We have heard much this morning about about childcare. Not about children losing a day's education. Do parents see teachers as babysitters to allow them to work ?
  109. 0959: 
    Pickets stand outside St. Pancras Hospital in London.
    Pickets stand outside St. Pancras Hospital in London November 30, 2011
  110. 0955: Annette Bartholomew, BBC News in Newcastle 
    Police guarding Tyne bridge to prevent any protests. A rally due to cross swing bridge later this morning.
  111. 0954: Amber Henshaw, BBC News in Shropshire 
    About 80% of schools closed in Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin. That's approximately 150 primary and secondary schools.
  112. 0954: Tanya Gupta, BBC News, in Kent 
    South East Coast Ambulance Trust paramedics providing emergency cover while supporting strike action.
  113. 0953: 
    And in England more than one million public sector workers are on strike say unions - with 2,700 of 21,700 state schools in England open. Get more details on strike action across England here.
  114. 0950: 
    Billy Bowman, a bus driver for 30 years, protests outside the Short Strand bus depot, in Belfast, where 200 buses are off the road.
    Billy Bowman, a bus driver for thirty years, protests outside the Short Strand bus depot, in Belfast
  115. 0949: 
    In Wales, about 170,000 workers are on strike as part of the UK-wide industrial action, say unions, with public services disrupted and most schools closed. More than 90% of pupils across Wales are missing classes, while all non-urgent hospital operations have been rescheduled. Other services affected include waste collection and libraries. Get the full picture in Wales here.
  116. 0949: 
    Schools, ferries, airports and benefit offices throughout Scotland are among the services hit as 300,000 public sector workers go on strike. Read about the situation in Scotland.
  117. 0949: 
    Liberal Democrat Party president Tim Farron tells the BBC News Channel the unions are wrong to strike because workers on low to middle incomes would get a "better, or certainly no worse" pension when they retire than is currently the case. "They (the strikes) are not justified but given they are happening today the the best thing we can do it respect the right for people to withdraw their labour and get back to negotiating tomorrow," he says.
  118. 0944: 
    A look at the situation in Northern Ireland now, where thousands of public sector workers are on strike. The civil service, health, education and transport are areas affected - with many council services having been cancelled and schools closed - but doctors and nurses are not taking industrial action. Trade union rallies and pickets have been organised across the region - with the main rally at lunchtime in Belfast. Get the full picture here.
    @unitetheunion, the official Twitter feed of Unite 
    tweets: GS Len McCluskey been visiting picket lines this morning. So far reps at St Thomas' and then Guys Hospital. Great mood on pickets #n30
  120. 0939: 
    Public sector workers from the PCS Union form a picket line outside the Port of Dover in Kent.
    Public sector workers from the PCS Union on a picket line outside the Port of Dover in Kent
  121. 0939: Amber Henshaw, BBC News 
    The governor at Shrewsbury prison in Shropshire has already sent out refreshments to strikers from three unions GMB, Unite and PCS. Officers are expected out at lunchtime to show support.
  122. 0938: Emma Vardy, BBC News 
    Around 2,000 people expected to march through Oxford later. Thames Valley Police Assistant Chief Constable John Campbell, leading the policing operation, says: "The role of the police during this day of action is to help balance the rights of people to take industrial action and protest peacefully with the rights of the public and local businesses to go about their daily business."
  123. 0937:BREAKING NEWS 
    Cabinet minister Francis Maude denies union claims that the government is refusing to enter into negotiations. He says talks are "ongoing, intensive and making good progress". He adds: "There were formal discussions with the civil service unions only yesterday and there will be formal discussions with the teaching unions tomorrow and health on Friday. In addition, there are frequent informal contacts between the Government and the TUC."
    BBC News website reader 
    comments on the BBC story: Just passed through the picket at the local hospital. All men picketing - yet at least 50% of those on strike are women. Any reason why women are not represented on the picket line?
    BBC News website reader Matt Conway
    comments on the BBC story: Isn't fair? Go talk to one of the billions of people living without a job, without a house, without a penny, without any prospects.... Oh right, your 3 extra years of paid working followed by (the new pension offer) what is still a very very very good pension!
  126. 0929: 
    The scene at Terminal 3 at Heathrow Airport, which so far has not seen delays.
    The scene at Terminal 3 at Heathrow Airport
    Mara Balcombe. from London 
    tweets: First time in my life I have crossed a picket line. I support my colleagues just haven't joined a union. #STRIKE
  128. 0928: James Vincent, BBC News in Sheffield
    Unison and Unite angry about a text circulating from council offering extra payment for standby home care workers. City Council says payments are for those working already, and aren't designed to tempt people across picket line.
  129. 0925: 
    Scotland's Finance Secretary John Swinney tells BBC Radio Scotland that he does not support the strike action, but adds: "Our prospects of resolving it satisfactorily have been contaminated by the short-term cash grab of the Treasury to increase people's contribution to their pensions."
  130. 0920: Emma Kasprzak, BBC News 
    An update from the West Midlands now. More than 500 schools are closed across Birmingham, Solihull, Walsall, Wolverhampton and Sandwell and Dudley. Birmingham's Central Library is closed.
  131. 0916: 
    Unite members strike outside the Liverpool entrance to the Birkenhead Tunnel, which has been closed for the day.
    Unite members strike outside the Liverpool entrance to the Birkenhead Tunnel which has been closed for the day.
  132. 0915: 
    Ed Balls adds: "It is hugely disruptive today to have these strikes, for families, for pensioners, for people using hospitals and for parents. These strikes should have been prevented. It required both sides (government and unions) to give some ground."
  133. 0915: 
    Shadow chancellor Ed Balls is asked on the BBC News Channel whether he would go on strike if he was a public sector worker. "I would be pretty upset," he replies. Pressed on whether he personally would take strike action, Mr Balls says: "I am not going to criticise people who are striking today, people who think it is a last resort."
  134. 0909: Alison Hodgkins-Brown, BBC News 
    at Stansted airport says so far all flights are operating normally out of the airport this morning.
  135. 0908: 
    A quick look at the school situation on the south coast. Hampshire County Council says it has 322 schools either closed or partially closed - out of a total of 502. Southampton has six schools open, three partially closed and 72 closed - out of 81. And Portsmouth City Council has 35 schools shut, 17 partially closed and 14 open.
  136. 0908: 
    A picket stands outside City Hall in central London.
    A picket stands outside City Hall in central London
  137. 0902: 
    There are expected to be more than 1,000 demonstrations across the UK today. Get the full story on those and the strike here, or for more information read our Q&A on the public sector strikes.
  138. 0902: 
    Thousands of hospital appointments and non-urgent operations have been cancelled as NHS workers join the actions. Calls to 999 will still be answered, but patients are being urged to think carefully and call only if it is a genuine emergency.
  139. 0902: 
    The picture looks better at airports, with warnings of long queues and delays so far failing to materialise at Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester airports.
  140. 0901: 
    At least 90% of schools are expected to remain closed as teachers, headteachers and other staff take part in the strike. The Department for Education (DfE) said 58% of England's 21,700 state schools would definitely be shut on Wednesday with another 13% partially closed.Read more about the schools closed in pensions strike here.
  141. 0900: 
    Here's a quick update of the situation at 0900 GMT. The biggest strike in a generation - which could see up to two million public sector workers walk out - is underway - but the government says it won't drop plans to cut their pensions.
  142. 0858: 
    BBC transport correspondent Richard Lister tells the BBC News Channel that Heathrow officials would be saying "so far so good". BAA had been predicting delays of two to three hours but reports from inside the terminals say that things are moving very, very smoothly indeed, our correspondent says.
  143. 0855:BREAKING NEWS Gillian Hargreaves, education correspondent 
    estimates from official Department for Education data that around 2,700 schools in England out of 20,000 are open as usual this morning.
  144. Bob Walker, BBC News, Nottingham 
    Driving instructor tells me that normally between 5 and 11 driving examiners are on duty at Chalfont Drive test centre in Nottingham. Today there's only 1. Instructor himself is former civil servant. He has some sympathy but says strikers still have good pensions. "I'm barely making a living right now," he says.
    Matthew Humphries, from Cardiff,
    writes: I'm not any kind of red militant, I've never been to a branch meeting in nearly 30 years of of membership; but when our pension scheme is simply torn up in front of our eyes and I'm told I have to work untill I'm 68 I don't see what else I can do except strike.
    David Miller, from Horsham 
    The public sector may be annoyed enough to strike, but most of them still have jobs & they'll all retire on a final salary pension. They are completely in denial and this strike just proves how out of touch with reality they are.
  147. 0846: Annette Bartholomew, BBC News, in Shropshire 
    says there are about 10 people on the picket line at royal Shrewsbury hospital. The hospitals trust says it's cancelled 53 planned surgeries across the county and 1500 outpatient appointments. Managers preparing to muck in and wheel patients around or answer phones.
  148. 0844: Annette Bartholomew, BBC News 
    says there is heavy traffic - almost gridlock - into Gateshead from Redheugh Bridge in Newcastle. That's possibly because the Metro is closed as a result of strike action.
    Phil Mapletoft, from Sheffield 
    I am currently fighting to get a job, any job, so I find it disgusting that others think it acceptable to hold the rest of our society to ransom to satisfy their own greed. Don't they realise that we are all living longer than in decades past, so pension ages must be extended upwards because of our greater longevity?
  150. 0841: 
    Kent and Medway councils say more than 300 schools in Kent and Medway are closed or partially closed today.
  151. 0839: 
    Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude tells the BBC that going on strike puts other people's jobs at risk and is not going to make things any better.
  152. 0837: Megan Paterson, BBC News, Manchester
    Manchester Airport - disruption minimal at passport control this morning. Service running better than expected.
  153. 0836: Emma Vardy, BBC News 
    Oxfordshire County Council confirms 209 schools are closed or partially closed today - three quarters of all schools in the county.
  154. 0831: Emily Unia, BBC News 
    Quick snapshot of the situation in Cumbria now. More than half the county's schools are definitely closed but 39 will stay open. Nineteen libraries are shut, 12 day care centres for disabled not opening.
    tweets: Disappointed that I'm joining industrial action today. Agree we should work longer, but paying more to get less is unfair #n30 #nov30
  156. 0830: Clark Ainsworth, BBC News 
    Chief operating officer Scott Stanley at Gatwick Airport says: "Whilst passengers have so far not experienced delays at the border zones we do expect delays to occur at some point today as the rate of arriving flights increases."
    Jonathan Stoneman, from Devon,
    tweets: Through Heathrow as fast as ever, if not faster. No queues at 0800 in T1 at least. And Iris was working!
  158. We mentioned earlier that shadow chancellor Ed Balls says it is ''ridiculous'' the dispute was not sorted out by the government. Watch the video of him on BBC Breakfast here.
    James, from Kent, 
    tweets: You can't attack the strikers for damaging the economy without tacitly acknowledging the huge importance of the work they do.
  160. 0824: 
    Mr Osborne insists the pension offer is a "fair deal for the public sector and the taxpayer" and adds that they are "generous pensions that you can't get in the private sector".
  161. 0822: 
    Chancellor George Osborne tells the BBC the "government has not shied away from making decisions" and the increase in the pension age was one of them.
  162. 0822: 
    Then BBC's Ross Hawkins says there are strike placards outside Royal Courts of Justice, where the Leveson media inquiry is being held. "We've been led to believe Leveson should be unaffected. Let's see," he says.
  163. 0820: 
    Mr Miliband adds: "So I'm afraid the government has got to accept responsibility - it is their failure that has led to the strikes today."
  164. 0819:BREAKING NEWS 
    The Labour leader Ed Miliband says he has "huge sympathy" for people whose lives are going to be disrupted today but he says he is "not going to condemn the dinner ladies, nurses, teachers who have made the decision to go on strike because they feel they have been put in an impossible position by a government that has refused to negotiate properly".
  165. 0818: 
    Brendan Barber of the TUC tells the BBC that while the government has made some concessions on public sector pensions, in other ways they have made "no moves at all" - for example, on increased contributions. "This makes it extraordinarily difficult to reach a deal," he says.
    Gareth Lewis Shelton, from London,
    tweets: Don't quite support strikers cause, but I do support right to strike. Gave plenty of notice, does no harm, individual choice. #nov30
    Bob, from Rotherham 
    writes: The strikers are not living in the real world, there are 2.6 million unemployed people that would give anything to be in a steady, safe job with a pension at the end of it that is guaranteed. There are many more millions of us in the private sector that would give their right arm for a pension scheme like the one on offer.
    Sally Newland, from Dagenham 
    writes: Why should public sector workers believe that any new pension deal will be maintained in the future? In 1972 I was told I could retire in 2016, now I will retire in 2022. Retrospective changes to pensions should be seen for what they are, taking money under false pretences.
  169. 0805: Stuart Harratt, BBC News, in Hull 
    Radio reporters passing over the Humber Bridge has told us the toll booths are not open, so it is currently free to cross.
  170. 0805: Trevor Gibbons, BBC News 
    At Kettle Thorpe High School in Wakefield an NUT picket line turns a teacher around after discussion of issues.
  171. 0804: Jerry Chester, BBC News 
    Bryony Baynes, head teacher at Ashton-Under-Hill First School, near Evesham, Worcestershire, tells the BBC why she is striking: "I worry very much, as do a lot of other heads, as do our unions, that these changes will discourage young people from entering the profession and that actually we will lose out."
  172. 0802: 
    Shadow chancellor Ed Balls says that if Labour was in government he wouldn't have hit those earning under £15,000. "Those on £7,000 or £8,000, those that are working part time, who have pensions of just £3,000 or £4,000 a year are already seeing a rise in contributions. It's not fair," he says.
  173. 0800: Daragh Corcoran, from Leeds, 
    tweets: Quite a number of younger members of staff passing the picket line here at Leeds Civic Hall #N30
  174. 0759: 
    Mr Balls adds Mr Osborne's claims that the lowest paid are not affected is not true and it isn't fair: "The public sector pensions had to be reformed but not fair to hit the poorest hardest," he says.
  175. 0757: 
    Shadow chancellor Ed Balls tells the BBC the pensions row should have been sorted out by the government: "They didn't and that's why we're in this situation" with strikes," he says.
    Ray Mead, from Southampton, 
    tweets: I can't afford contributory pensions for my staff but some can't come in due to childcare etc. Selfish strikes affect the whole economy #N30
  177. 0754: Paul Rowley, BBC political correspondent 
    Some Labour MPs are publicly backing today's strike by public service workers over cuts to their pensions, even though it's not party policy. Nine of them have signed a Commons motion supporting the action, and are calling on the Government to "engage in serious negotiations to resolve the dispute".
  178. 0752: Emma Vardy, BBC News, Oxford 
    Ian McKendrick, a staff nurse on the picket line outside Warneford hospital in Oxford, explains his reason for opposing the government's pension plans: "I'm looking at a future ending up on benefits because I work in acute admissions and I can't do that job at 66," he says.
  179. 0752: 
    Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, says: "The government constantly says get back round the table - that's all the NASUWT has wanted to do, but ministers haven't called a meeting since 2 November."
  180. 0747: James Vincent, BBC News 
    Friendly exchange at Sheffield town hall as the chief executive turns up for work. Strikers asking him about his salary and pension.
    Michael, from Scotland, 
    tweets: "Heading to work to cross the #picket. Proud to be working hard for the people of #Edinburgh today. #Scab #Nov30"
  182. 0747: Tony Smith, BBC News 
    Terminal 4 Heathrow, the place is empty. No queues. Staff here say it's working better than normal. But there are lines laid out expecting queues and signs up warning of delays.
  183. 0746: Amber Henshaw, BBC News 
    First people on picket line at Shirehall, head office of Shropshire council. The council says it thinks 40 or 50 % of workers won't be turning up today.
    Anthony Barker, from Leicestershire,
    writes: As a site manager at a primary school, I am supporting today's action. As one who is too near to retirement for any proposed changes to affect, we cannot let these changes happen to young people's pensions in the future.
  185. 0739: 
    Striker Ian Colquhoun stands on a picket line outside the Western Infirmary in Glasgow. He is one of 300,000 public sector workers due to walk out across Scotland.
    Picket line
  186. 0732: Jonathan Sumberg, BBC News at Heathrow Airport 
    All quiet and seems to be running normally at Heathrow Terminal 3 immigration, but the next hour is the busiest time as transatlantic flights arrive. The 10 EU UK desks at are being manned by mix of home office staff and police officers who have been trained. Five non-EU desks are open too.
  187. 0732: Keith Gooden, BBC News 
    West Midlands Ambulance service urges sparing use of 999 service.
  188. 0732: Annette Bartholomew, BBC News 
    Picket outside Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary hospital describes proposed public pension cuts as shameful.
  189. 0726: 
    Mr Osborne says he is making sure the bankers also pay their share to help the economy, both in cash terms and as a proportion of their income. But he says the strike will achieve nothing. "It will make the economy weaker and potentially cost jobs", and he urges unions to "get back round the table". He adds: "That's what we should be doing today, not seeing these strikes."
  190. 0722: 
    And schools minister Nick Gibb tells the BBC: "We do understand people are concerned about pensions and we are determined to maintain defined benefit pensions. The negotiations are continuing. "We have to be fair to all tax payers not just those who work in the public sector. If we're going to sustain these kind of high quality pensions in the long run there does have to be reform."
  191. 0721: 
    Mr Osborne adds he is offering a "very generous" pension for public sector workers - and he'd urge people to settle it for the next generation. He adds that he is trying to protect the lowest paid people in the public sector and be "as fair as possible".
  192. 0720: 
    Unison general secretary Dave Prentis tells BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that industrial action by his union was rare but public sector workers "were annoyed" about paying more towards their pensions while working longer. He said: "That is when people say enough is enough."
  193. 0720: 
    Mr Osborne says he's not picking a fight with the public sector, or anyone, but the debt needs to be paid off. He says the private sector needs to grow and create jobs, as ultimately that's where tax revenue comes from to pay for the public sector.
  194. 0720: 
    Chancellor George Osborne says Britian has to make some "very difficult choices" but if we didn't make them things would be "very much worse". He tells the BBC: "Our country would be bankrupt".
  195. 0716: 
    Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, has been speaking to ITV's Daybreak. He says the public sector is "absolutely under attack" by the Government, adding that the day of action is completely justified. "There comes a time when people really have to stand up and make a stand. With the scale of change the Government are trying to force through, making people work much, much longer and get much, much less, that's the call people have made."
  196. 0711: 
    We just heard about schools in south Yorkshire, now we're hearing that than 200 schools are completely closed in York and north Yorkshire. Many more are partially closed.
  197. 0710: Emma Blackburn, BBC News 
    Picket line gathering at Olive Grove Depot where the council's street force team is based in Sheffield. Strikers say they will " fight for their country, fight for their public sectors and they will not go away."
    Claire, an NHS worker, 
    tweets: I'm not striking to get a better deal, just for my employer to honour the contract I signed up to 10 years ago #n30
  199. 0709: James Vincent, BBC News 
    A few more figures about schools - 79% are closed in south Yorkshire, and 88% affected by strike action.
  200. 0706: 
    Hospital managers are planning to postpone about 5000 non-emergency operations because of the strike. Patients needing urgent treatment such as chemotherapy and kidney dialysis will still be able to get it, and maternity units will remain open. Calls to 999 will still be answered, but patients are being urged to think carefully and call only if it is a genuine emergency.
  201. 0705: 
    The strike is thought to be the biggest in more than 30 years. Picket lines are expected to be mounted outside schools, hospitals, jobcentres, courts and other buildings, while more than 1,000 rallies and other demonstrations will be held across the UK. Read the full story here.
  202. 0703: 
    In Bristol, staff at the city's royal infirmary walked out at midnight to form a picket line. Watch staff beginning their 24-hour walk out.
    Simon, a teacher, 
    tweets: "About to head off to work. I am not striking and I don't think anyone at the school where I work is" and "As an independent school we are not public sector workers but the proposed changes will also affect our pensions."
  204. 0659: 
    Health workers walked out of the Birmingham Women's Hospital at midnight.
    Health workers out on strike at midnight from the Birmingham Women's Hospital
  205. 0653: 
    Ann Price, a community nurse in Bristol, tells the BBC she is backing staff who walked out at Bristol Royal Infirmary at midnight to "protect the meagre pensions that we do have in the public sector". She says nurses are "notoriously low paid" and have had a pay freeze for the last two years: "The gold plated pensions they say we have is not true, it is only relevant to what we earn and a lot of our workers earn very low wages."
    Rose Dawn 
    tweets: I'm withdrawing my labour today. Solidarity with all other strikers everywhere. Power to the wealth creators, power to the workers. #n30
  207. 0653: 
    BBC Essex reports around a dozen staff on a picket line outside Essex police headquarters.
  208. 0649: Richard Lister, BBC News 
    Airport sources at Heathrow airport suggest immigration controls are at two thirds of normal staffing levels - more than the 30-50% predicted previously .
  209. 0647: Jon Hunt, BBC News 
    One of the first passengers to pass through Gatwick airport today tells the BBC that passport control took six minutes to clear. Passengers Andrew Mcallister and Helen Heasman arriving at Gatwick say there were no queues at the border at 0600 GMT.
  210. 0647: 
    The Department for Education (DfE) says it believes that more than half of England's 21,700 state schools (58%) are closed, with a further 13% partially shut. Around 13% are open, the DfE says, while the rest are unknown. Schools in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are also expected to be affected.
  211. 0645: 
    Yesterday union leaders reacted angrily to Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement announcements of a public sector pay cap of 1% for two years, as well as bringing forward to 2026 the rise in the state pension age to 67.
  212. 0645: 
    Worried about how you might be affected?Read our guide and find out your rights.
  213. 0644: 
    Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude has branded the action "indefensible and wrong".
  214. 0644: 
    The UK Border Agency is set to be hit by the walkout of Public and Commercial Services union members, and passengers have been warned to expect delays at border control. Queues are expected at airports including Heathrow and Gatwick, no ferries will run to or from Shetland, and the Metro in Newcastle will be closed.
  215. 0641: 
    Mr Johnson adds: "What the government is doing is storing up trouble for the future because in reality we are heading for pensioner poverty if we don't try to protect public sector pensions and also do something about private sector pensions as well."
  216. 0641: 
    Craig Johnson, regional organiser for the RMT union in the north east of England, says that part of the settlement that you make when you are a public sector worker is that you get a reasonable pension - "not something that is excessive, but something that will look after you into retirement and into old age".
  217. 0617: 
    We're expecting as many as 90% of England's schools to be forced to close by striking teachers and support staff.
  218. 0611: 
    Schools, hospitals, airports, ports and government offices will be among sites disrupted, as more than 1,000 demonstrations are due across the UK.
  219. 0610: 
    Hello and welcome to our public sector workers strike live page. Up to two million public sector workers are staging a strike over pensions in what is set to be the biggest walkout for a generation today. We'll bring you all the news and analysis from the day as it unfolds.