Our reporters have been out and about in Wales to see for themselves the impact of today’s strikes. Read their accounts below.
Kevin Ashford reports on the strike in Aberystwyth:
Visually, the strike hasn’t had a huge impact on Aberystwyth and surrounding areas.
Legal limits on the number of pickets means there’s only half a dozen banners outside the National Library, which is closed to the public today – although there seems to be support from passing motorists if the number of horns being sounded is anything to go by.
The library’s PCS branch chairman said they’d also been getting support from non-striking colleagues in the form of sandwiches!
There was a similar picket presence earlier outside the Welsh Assembly building in the town.
The town’s Job Centre is being run by a skeleton staff, the doors of the magistrates court are locked and Penglais School seems the worst affected with only year 12 pupils being taught.
The media and a couple of demonstrators turned up for an anticipated rally at the Morlan Centre in Aberystwyth only to find it wasn’t taking place.
From Business Correspondent Carole Green:
Five hundred striking teachers, lecturers and civil servants are rallying in Cathays Park this lunchtime.
President of Wales TUC Andy Richards said the Coalition Government will have to listen and enter meaningful negotiations or there will be bigger protests to follow.
He said teachers’ pensions had already been negotiated, they are affordable and it was an unfair to expect people to work longer, pay more and get less.
Teachers and lecturers said they regretted the disruption to parents but added they had to focus on the long term standing of the profession.
Many argued that if the pensions are undermined then it would be harder to attract good quality candidates to teach – and that’s bad news for the next generation.
Our reporter David Wood tweeted from the Merthyr Tydfil rally:
Crowds beginning to gather for rally this lunchtime outside Merthyr civic centre. Speakers from NUT, PCS and the council.
I’d guess more than 200 people here so far.
Merthyr’s NUT rep says Government has lost the support of the teachers. He says 68 is too old to stand in front of class of teenagers.
From our reporter Rob Osborne:
I’ve spent all day talking to people and seeing what impact the strike is having on the lives of the people of Wales.
Small business owners who can’t get to work because of school closures, nursery owners who are having to stay open all day to look after children, and people who can’t take their driving test because instructors are on strike.
Most of the people I spoke to had sympathy for the strikers, but it seems if this is the start of a long period of industrial action, views may change.
Our political reporter Lynn Courtney says:
We arrived at Cathays Park in Cardiff just ahead of the hundreds of campaigners who were making their way to the pensions rally.
At first it was faint but gradually the singing of the marchers grew louder and louder until they came into view.
It was a mass of people, young and old, carrying banners and chanting slogans.
They crowded outside the old welsh office building to hear speakers like Andy Richards, president of the Wales TUC, lambast the Westminster Government over threats to public sector pensions.
Our Political Editor Adrian Masters tweets:
More on the political impact here in Wales of today’s strikes.
The Senedd is closed as expected but the adjoining offices remain open.
Welsh Government ministers are working at home but refusing to cross picket lines in Cardiff Bay or at govt offices across the country.
Mick Antoniw AM will read that statement at the rally in Cardiff later when he speaks on behalf of Welsh Labour.
Unions here unhappy with UK Labour leadership’s view of strikes but pleased at support from Welsh Labour and welcome the @WelshGovernment stance.
UK Labour source says Ed Miliband and Peter Hain agree – not taking sides in the dispute and that it’s a failure on both sides.
I’m told neither Ed Miliband nor Peter Hain have had discussions with Welsh Labour leadership to influence their approach to the strikes.
I’m told that Welsh Conservative AMs who were due to be at work in Cardiff Bay are here. ‘Business as usual’ according to a spokesman.
All Plaid Cymru AMs and support staff have stayed away and if they’re not striking are working in other offices or from home.
A Welsh Lib Dem spokesman says AMs and staff can work in the Assembly if they want but they are not obliged to since there’s no Assembly business today.
And that’s what I know so far.
Rob Shelley writes from Wrexham:
Wrexham – live at lunchtime – the protests may have dissipated – only the occasional protestor straggling back home with a placard or two – but wander round town and somewhere that seems to be going through another workday is vastly different once the cameras look closer.
At court, the accused stand outside smoking; wondering what to do because justice – criminal justice at least – has halted for the day. Down the road, the Jobcentre doors swish open, with only the managers to staff the building.
At the petrol station, the bored looking 10-year-old standing next to his mum on the till tells you the story of those parents who couldn’t reorganise their day off: take your child to work, think up some excuse to phone in ill – compromise. It’s like the summer holidays have happened three weeks early.
Beside the town’s new shopping complex, the Polish workers – Wrexham has a large Polish population – wonder what the protest is about. It’s a town which embraces prosperity – and a long catalogue of high street names – and through the smaller side streets shows the gaps in town that the recession has already caused. In hard-learned English, they say they’re here to work: the schoolkids walking round window shopping welcome their free day off.
Lorna Prichard in North Wales adds:
Queen’s Square is always lively on a Thursday, because it’s market day. But today, competing with the butcher’s loudspeaker were reps from several unions. They’d been offered support from at least a hundred public sector workers, parents and their children. One 56-year-old primary school teacher told me she’d been expecting to retire at 60, but thanks to the proposed changes, would now work until she was 66. “My fear is I’ll be working until I die,” she said.