Thousands of people gathered in Manchester and London today to take part in marches. Police leave in the capital has been cancelled with a large Met operation underway to police the march.
Downing Street confirmed that more than 10,000 schools have either closed or cancelled lessons as a result of the strikes over public sectorpensions.
National Union of Teachers (NUT) figures suggest that 80 per cent of schools may have been affected.
Downing Street claimed that only half of members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which represents civil service workers, have joined the walkouts.
The PCS, however, insisted it was the best supported strike of the union’s history, saying that 90 per cent of members in the Department of Work and Pensions and 85 per cent in HM Revenue and Customs were on strike.
The Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude, claimed the turnout was lower than the 2004 and 2007 strikes against Labour’s pension reforms.
Ed Miliband stayed firmly on the fence, saying: “These strikes are wrong at a time when negotiations are still going on but parents and the public have been let down by both sides because the government has acted in a reckless and provocative manner.”