Hasan Suroor

LONDON: Civic services across the United Kingdom were seriously disrupted on Tuesday as up to 1.5 million local council workers went on a 24-hour strike in what they described as the biggest industrial action in the country since the 1926 great General Strike.

Hundreds of schools remained shut, garbage piled up and bus and train services in many parts of the country were hit because of the strike called to protest against the Government's proposed "discriminatory'' pensions policy under which local government employees will have to work till the age of 65 in order to claim a full pension while other public sector workers will continue to retire at 60.

The policy, which is expected to save local councils nearly £300 million a year, will affect a wide range of employees including school staff, nurses, community workers, cooks, refuse collectors and cleaners.

Train stations and subways in many places wore a deserted look with commuters being forced to walk long distances or use private transport. In Northern Ireland, all bus and train services were reported to be at a standstill. Transport services in Scotland were also seriously affected. In some areas, the strike was so total that even crematoriums and cemeteries were closed.