POLL: Will you support the teachers and civil servants if they go on strike over pensions?

As David Cameron appeals direct to trade unionists not to join Thursday's strike, public opinion is split right down the middle. So what do you think..?

David Cameron will call today on public sector unions to halt planned industrial action and accept that their pension packages are unsustainable and must be reformed.

He'll insist the present arrangements are 'not fair to the taxpayer' two days before a mass walkout of teachers, lecturers and civil servants.

Unions say up to 750,000 of them plan to walk out on Thursday - closing up to 85pc of Britain's schools.

But in Norfolk, pupils of the county's 440 schools were already looking forward to a day off, with schools closed because of the Royal Norfolk Show.


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Government departments, courts, driving tests and job centres will also be affected.

If Thursday's 24-hour strike goes ahead, it will be the biggest of its kind for decades. But times have changed since the 1970s and 80s. And many private sector workers have undergone changes to their pensions.

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Opinion polls today show public opinion to be divided over the strike - do you support it?

King's Lynn Trades Council is inviting workers to show their support at a rally in the High Street on Thursday lunchtime.

Its secretary Jo Rust said: 'These changes to public service workers' pensions will pave the way for cuts to private sector schemes.

'In addition they will hit women workers hardest, women workers who are already at a significant disadvantage with pensions and who will be disproportionately affected by the planned changes.'

Norfolk Coalition Against the Cuts will be staging a rally at the Forum, in Norwich on Thursday (12noon).

With talks due to resume in July, Mr Cameron was reported to have prepared a 'robust' but fair message to unions in a speech to the Local Government Association annual conference this afternoon.

Mark Serwotka, leader of the Public and Commercial Services union, said the Government had no interest in negotiating on plans to cut pensions, extend the retirement age and increase contributions.

Mary Bousted, leader of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: 'We are disappointed, but not particularly surprised that the Government has yet again refused to give us the information we need to carry out negotiations about teachers' and lecturers' pensions.'

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander maintained that the meeting was constructive and expressed disappointment that Thursday's strike was going ahead because talks were ongoing.

'We can assure the public that we have rigorous contingency plans in place to ensure that their essential services are maintained during the strike.'

The National Association of Head Teachers said it had 'grave concerns' about a suggestion by Education Secretary Michael Gove that parents could volunteer to cover for striking teachers.

In a joint statement, Mr Maude and Mr Alexander said: 'We believe both sides have a responsibility to see the talks through and we would urge public workers not to strike while they are ongoing.

'Public sector pensions will still be among the very best, with a guaranteed pension which very few private sector staff now enjoy.

'We are proposing they will be paid later because people live longer and that public sector staff will pay more, for a fairer balance between what they pay and what other taxpayers pay.'

Mr Serwotka said: 'On Thursday we will see hundreds of thousands of civil and public servants on strike and, on the experience of today's meeting and the last few months of Government obstinacy, we fully expect to be joined by millions more in the autumn.'

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