30/06/2011 Midlands Today


30/06/2011

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Hello, welcome to Midlands Today with Suzanne Virdee and Nick Owen.

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The headlines tonight: Protect our pensions - thousands of strikers

:00:08.:00:16.

converge on Birmingham on a day of protest. Do you want to see

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teachers aged 68 calling on the nursery floor with children?

:00:20.:00:23.

670 shut but the Prime Minister praises the school where teachers

:00:23.:00:29.

refused to go on strike. They took their decision that on this

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occasion, they would put the children and families' interests

:00:31.:00:34.

first. The fans have nothing to worry

:00:34.:00:37.

about say officials - after Birmingham City owner Carson Yeung

:00:37.:00:39.

is charged with five counts of money laundering.

:00:39.:00:42.

And defeat at the high court for a soldier's mother who says the

:00:43.:00:52.
:00:53.:00:57.

Good evening, welcome to Thursday's Midlands Today from the BBC.

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Tonight, a massive show of defiance as thousands of public sector

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workers take to the streets in protest.

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Unions claimed 4,000 people took part in a rally and march in

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Birmingham City Centre and there were other events across our region.

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It meant more than 670 schools were shuts and hundreds more partially

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closed. Our political reporter Susana

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Mendonca reports now on the day teachers and civil servants vowed

:01:19.:01:29.
:01:29.:01:30.

to protect their pensions. This is what angry public sector

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workers look like. Thousands of teachers and civil servants took

:01:34.:01:38.

over Birmingham's Victoria Square in this, their first face-off with

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a government, over their pensions. Do you really want to see children

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-- teachers aged 68 calling on the nursery floor with children? Am I

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going to have my hips and knees replaced? I think not. Important

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people in sectors like police, education, health care, they are

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being let down. For the future of teaching is at stake because how on

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earth are we going to attract top- quality graduates with a poxy

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pension scheme? Then they marched through the city in protest at

:02:09.:02:11.

plans that would see them pay more into their pensions, work for

:02:11.:02:16.

longer and have them based on a career average instead of the more

:02:16.:02:19.

generous final-salary schemes. With so many teachers taking action,

:02:19.:02:23.

schools were left empty. It was a price that those here felt had to

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be paid. We apologise to the parents for the destruction. It is

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not our aim to disrupt parents in these matters. What we think is

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that if we let the government get away with it this wholly

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unjustified attack on our pension scheme, it will damage our

:02:38.:02:42.

profession, damage teacher recruitment and retention and so

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there will be more teacher shortages, a bigger turnover, and

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it will be worse for an education in the long run. The government

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says its plans are fair and essential and instead of striking

:02:52.:02:55.

today, the unions should be getting around the table and negotiating.

:02:55.:02:59.

But people who have turned up here in Birmingham city centre did not

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believe them and protests like this have been happening not just here,

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but across the West Midlands. In Telford, it was the Savoy service

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union that took centre-stage as 400 civilian defence workers marched.

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The this is not just civil servants worrying about minor changes to

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their terms and conditions. We are talking about people on ordinary

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salaries and ordinary wages losing tens of thousands of pounds and in

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some cases hundreds of thousands of pounds over the course of their

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lifetime. In Stoke-on-Trent, people working in Jobcentres, benefit

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offices and courts were among those joining the demonstration. The it

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has been a show of the Solidarity for all public sector workers

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across the country and it is certainly something that is for

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workers to be proud of in Stoke-on- Trent and Staffordshire. It has

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given a lot of heart as well to public sector workers, so that they

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can fight for better pensions in the future. I did want my child to

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be taught by someone who is 68... In Worcester, teachers piled into

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St Peter's Church for their protest. Among them were members who had

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never been on strike before. This was the first time in its 110 --

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127 year history that they are taking this kind of action. This

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union is a moderate union and we do not take strike action very often.

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This is an issue that we think is of such major importance that we

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feel we have no alternative but to take strike action. The government

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is urging unions to continue with negotiations but the unions are

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promising more scenes like this in the coming months unless their

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demands are met. The And Susana's in the centre of

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Birmingham now. Susanna, how do the unions think the day has gone?

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All of the unions I've been speaking to today feel that it was

:04:57.:05:01.

quite a successful day. It's quiet now but you saw the busy pictures

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earlier on. They tell me that around 4000 people attended. It was

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difficult to tell what the numbers are actually worth. The police told

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us it was in the thousands. That is a lot less than the unions were

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telling me yesterday. They had said it would be 10,000. There certainly

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were not that a number of people here. I am joined by Doug Morgan

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from the nut. A lower turnout in Birmingham than the unions were

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telling us yesterday. We were always going to talking up what we

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were doing. We were pleased that we have thousands of public sector

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workers who stood up for public services today, who said our

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pensions should be protected, who said our schools and our council

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services should be protected. We thought it was a good event. It is

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the children of the parents of children who have suffered as a

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result of your members walking out. We had hundreds of schools closed

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across the Midlands. What can you say to those people to retain their

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support? We had lots of public support. Many parents are on the

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demo today. There will be days of disruption but it is to stop

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decades of destruction. Without us taking action, there will be no

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jobs in the future for many people. There will be no pensions for their

:06:14.:06:20.

kids. We think we were right to do what we did. The unions are saying

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that unless the Government meets their demands, we will see more

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events like we saw today in the coming months.

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So hundreds of classrooms were empty today, but one school in

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Worcestershire won praise from the Prime Minister for staying open.

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David Cameron paid tribute to teachers at Vaynor First School in

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Redditch, where the headteacher said staff were putting their

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pupils first. Cath Mackie reports. It's 8.30am and normally the

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arrival of children at Vaynor First school in Redditch wouldn't be

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making the news today though is different. Despite some teachers

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here belonging to the unions which are on strike. They've come in and

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the school's staying open. They took the decision that on this

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occasion they would put the children and families' interests

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first. However they fully support their colleagues who have strike.

:07:09.:07:14.

It is always a hard decision. that decision was welcome news to

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parents. I support the strike in the that the pensions are really

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important to them but also, the kids need to go to school. It's

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great because you don't have to find childcare or anything like

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that but I believe that they should have gone on strike. And doubtless

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never before has an ordinary schoolday won such political praise

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as happened in the House of commons yesterday. What does my right

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honourable friend say to the teachers at a school in my

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constituency who are pressing the welfare of the children first by

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not striking tomorrow? A I would congratulate them for doing the

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right thing and keeping their school open. I don't believe there

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is any case for industrial action tomorrow, not least because talks

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are still ongoing. While it's a day of protest for many teachers across

:08:06.:08:09.

the Midlands, here the school day is well underway here. But this

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public sector pay and pensions dispute is far from over and the

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school can't rule out taking future strike action. A I would have to

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weigh up the pros and cons and see what came out of negotiations

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because I'm due to retire and are not sure whether I'm going to be

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able to. That is a worry. A we are living longer, the money is not

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there, something needs to be done. Don't teachers have to do what

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everybody else is having to do and take their hit of the cuts? It is

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about the amount of money that is already in the pot. The indications

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are there is sufficient there, with the agreement have already made, to

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actually sustain our pensions to the question is, why is there for

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need for this action by the government? The Tomorrow all

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teachers will be back at work but with the Government and unions

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still at loggerheads, the question is, for how long?

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Today's strike action also involved Birmingham City Council workers,

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but that's all to do with a separate issue, a dispute over

:09:08.:09:10.

changes to their contracts. Workers claim carers and other workers face

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losing a third of their salaries. The city council said only 10% of

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their workforce went on strike, and disruption was minimal. But some

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severely disabled people feel they've been let down by the

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industrial action. Bob Hockenhull reports.

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Valerie has a severely disabled 46- year-old son who needs two home

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care visits a day. She doesn't want us to identify him. But she says

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today's strike meant she's had to travel 35 miles to look after him.

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He wouldn't have had a carer. Hopefully someone would have come

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to cover him for the morning but he would not have had anybody for his

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lunch call, he would have missed out on his medication which is

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vital. On a picket line in Birmingham this morning, we showed

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striking carers an e-mail Valerie sent to Midlands Today voicing her

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concerns. Some admitted they'd taken today's action with heavy

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hearts. It is not like we are happy with what we are doing. It is our

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last choice. This morning, I was in two minds. I thought we are

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thinking about the residents put up the same time, we have to think

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about our livelihoods as well. Labour leader Ed Miliband may have

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spoken out against today's national strikes. But that didn't stop one

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of his MPs visiting this picket line to lend his support. I know

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one woman who gives outstanding service to the elderly and disabled.

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She earns �14,000 a year. Her pay is going to be cut by �4,000. That

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is wrong. The many other workers here today it is the first time

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they've taken part in a strike. Gone are the questions they must

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ask now is does their action risk alienating the public? Birmingham

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City Council insists the new contract proposals are fair and

:10:57.:11:01.

necessary if it's to make savings. But the unions say it's simply

:11:01.:11:09.

unfair to make staff who're already on low wages work for even less.

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Our political editor Patrick Burn's been in Westminster for us today,

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gauging reaction to the strike. Let's go live to him now. Patrick,

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what have our MPs been saying to you then?

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It is a measure of how awkward this issue is in many ways for our

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politicians that whoever you talk to, wherever they sit in the House

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of Commons, you have one of those on at the one hand, on the other,

:11:35.:11:39.

kind of conversations. Yes, they understand how very strongly

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teachers feel about their pensions but they deplore, often in a

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trenchant terms, the strike. Labour, however, they are against the

:11:49.:11:52.

strike generally as well but on the other hand, they are against her by

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the government is handling this. What are -- what are they for, I

:11:56.:12:06.
:12:06.:12:06.

wonder? M joined by an MP, -- I am joined by two MPs. What do you say

:12:06.:12:12.

to an official who told us that he felt duty -- teachers had a moral

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duty to strike against your government which has run aiding its

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commitment to pay decent pensions? One of the Labour pensions

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Secretary look into this independently, he said that the

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current system is untenable and it desperately needs reform. He also

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said that as a proportion of national earnings, pensions are

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going to go down over the next four years. They are not an affordable.

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We he said that, he is taking into account some of the changes the

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government has already amount so that is not a fair comparison. What

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I would also save is that the government is in negotiations with

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the TUC right now and just this week commander, Brendan Barber said

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the government is discussing with the TUC in good faith so it is

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premature. This is a complete embarrassment for a party, isn't

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it? You cannot condone the strike but you cannot have to join a union

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friends either. It is not an embarrassment because before -- the

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for trade unions taking part on not affiliated to the Labour Party.

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This is a failure on both sides. The government has mishandled this

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situation by trying to dictate the outcome of what is a sensitive of -

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- no decision on pensions. Where is this leading? I sincerely hope it

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is leading to a negotiated settlement. When we were in

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government, be negotiated very tough agreements on pensions and we

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did not have this kind of disruption. Where is this leading?

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I hope where it leads to a is a Ferez settlement, both for

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taxpayers, so there is a better balance between what is paid and

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what the taxpayer pays, and also let us recognise people are living

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longer so pensions need to change. Thanks, Patrick. And we'll be back

:13:54.:14:04.
:14:04.:14:04.

Birmingham City chairman Peter Pannu insists the club's future is

:14:04.:14:07.

financially secure, despite the fact that owner Carson Yeung's been

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charged with five counts of money laundering, involving �57 million

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in his native Hong Kong. Yeung's been released on bail and Pannu's

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flying out to meet him. Dan Pallett's report contains some

:14:15.:14:24.

flash photography. Not the style of entrance he's been

:14:24.:14:29.

used to. Today Carson Yeung arrived at a Hong Kong Court to face five

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charges of money laundering. Prosecutors say it involves around

:14:31.:14:38.

�57 million passing through Mr Yeung's accounts. The 51-year-old

:14:38.:14:40.

refused to talk to reporters outside the court although his

:14:40.:14:46.

solicitor denied the charges on his behalf. Former Birmingham City

:14:46.:14:48.

chairman Vico Hui says the matter involves Yeung's personal finances

:14:48.:14:51.

and shouldn't affect Birmingham City or the parent company

:14:51.:15:01.
:15:01.:15:10.

Carson Yeung took over at Birmingham City in October 2009.

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The charges relate to a period before then from 2001 to 2007, but

:15:13.:15:21.

the club say they understand if supporters have concerns. If found

:15:21.:15:25.

guilty Carson Yeung could face upto 14 years in jail and a fine of up

:15:25.:15:35.
:15:35.:15:38.

to �400,000. He's been bailed to reappear in Court on August 11th.

:15:38.:15:42.

Worrying time for blues fans. Craig Gardner has been sold to Sunderland

:15:42.:15:46.

into the last few minutes. We're joined now by Dr John Beech, a

:15:46.:15:49.

football finance expert at Coventry University. Dr Beech, what's your

:15:49.:15:56.

verdict on today's developments? I think it is early days in what is

:15:56.:16:03.

going to be a bit of a saga. The obvious love for shows there is no

:16:03.:16:07.

direct involvement in the alleged offences because of the timing of

:16:08.:16:12.

them. Clearly there are worrying times ahead if he is found guilty

:16:12.:16:16.

and get the worst punishment. Then I think there is some cause for

:16:16.:16:19.

concern. The key word at the Mermaid is uncertainty. We really

:16:19.:16:23.

do not know which is going -- which way this is going to go.

:16:23.:16:27.

There were comforting words from the club but the place must be in

:16:27.:16:30.

turmoil. I think it must be because it is

:16:30.:16:36.

all very well saying the club is not involved, and clearly it is and,

:16:36.:16:40.

but when your own is facing serious charges like that with serious

:16:40.:16:44.

outcomes, of course it is very worrying. The timing of this

:16:44.:16:50.

probably couldn't be worse with the relegation and all the additional

:16:50.:16:56.

financial problems that that will bring. It is not good timing.

:16:56.:16:59.

Obviously he is innocent until proven guilty but they are terrible

:16:59.:17:02.

headlines for the game in general. What you think the Premier League

:17:02.:17:07.

and Football League will make of all this? I think they will be

:17:07.:17:11.

concerned because again, money laundering in football is a

:17:11.:17:15.

combination that has been highlighted about a year ago. An

:17:15.:17:18.

international report pointed out that football is particularly

:17:18.:17:23.

vulnerable to money laundering. Even the suggestion that there

:17:23.:17:29.

might be a connection is not good news. It is very part -- it is very

:17:29.:17:38.

bad. I'll fight on - the words of a mother told by the High Court in

:17:38.:17:41.

London she can't claim compensation from the government for the death

:17:41.:17:44.

of her soldier son. Sue Smith had argued the Ministry of Defence

:17:44.:17:47.

failed to provide armoured vehicles which could have saved the life of

:17:47.:17:50.

her son, Private Phillip Hewitt. But the court said a separate claim

:17:50.:17:53.

for negligence after the death of Corporal Stephen Allbutt, a father

:17:53.:17:55.

of three from Stoke-on-Trent, can proceed. Sarah Falkland was in

:17:55.:18:02.

London for the hearing. A smile in spite of everything. Sue

:18:02.:18:05.

Smith has her case struck out by the High Court today but was

:18:05.:18:09.

determined to fight on. I don't feel we've lost because we've got

:18:09.:18:15.

this far and we will just carry on. There is Europe, if we lose in the

:18:15.:18:21.

UK. We will go to Europe. Her son was blown up in a so-called snatch

:18:21.:18:26.

Land Rover in Iraq in 2005. Because he died on foreign soil and away

:18:26.:18:30.

from the British army camp, the High Court judge today ruled that

:18:30.:18:33.

her case on other grounds of the European Convention on Human Rights

:18:33.:18:36.

could not hold. All along, the Ministry of Defence has argued it

:18:36.:18:40.

has not had a duty of care under the principle of, community and its

:18:40.:18:44.

losses have claimed that in terms of defence procurement, this is a

:18:44.:18:49.

matter for politicians and commanders, not for judges. Mr

:18:49.:18:53.

Justice Owen disagreed. He'd said that in terms of duty of care, it

:18:53.:18:57.

was fair, was in the public interest and it was a matter for

:18:57.:19:01.

the courts. That means that Staffordshire widowed Debbie all

:19:01.:19:04.

but could now be in line for compensation. As a dependent, she

:19:04.:19:09.

is entitled to fight on the grounds of negligence. Her husband was

:19:09.:19:14.

killed in a friendly fire incident in a tag which did not have the

:19:14.:19:20.

right identity equipment. It will open some floodgates, which is when

:19:20.:19:24.

you do think about it. It is frightening to think what we have

:19:24.:19:29.

achieved today really. The MoD will be extremely disappointed by this

:19:29.:19:37.

judgment because it does clarify the law in a way that says that it

:19:37.:19:44.

cannot be say that the MoD has no duty of care to soldiers who they

:19:44.:19:47.

are sending the board in armed conflict. The MoD are said to be

:19:47.:19:53.

the appealing to days judging. have not got the MoD money but what

:19:53.:20:00.

I have got is that it termination - - the determination. It is only

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fair that people like myself and the other families could go.

:20:06.:20:13.

But -- keep going. Still to come tonight: The forecast.

:20:13.:20:23.
:20:23.:20:30.

Is it the rise or fall of Let's go back to remain story

:20:30.:20:33.

tonight. Thousands of people protested in the centre of

:20:33.:20:35.

Birmingham this lunchtime at plans to change pensions.

:20:35.:20:41.

One of the strikers was a teacher from Warwickshire. What drove him

:20:41.:20:51.
:20:51.:20:54.

to strike? Today, this man joined other

:20:54.:20:59.

striking teachers to hand out apples to the public. An apple.

:20:59.:21:08.

what is it so -- what is it for? For support for teachers' strike

:21:08.:21:14.

him. For the economy is in a mess and they are trying to sort it out.

:21:14.:21:24.
:21:24.:21:43.

At least they are trying. Indi has been teaching for 12 years and

:21:43.:21:46.

earns thirty thousand pounds a year he's estimated that the pension

:21:46.:21:49.

changes will cost him an extra �100 a month and result in a smaller

:21:49.:21:53.

pension pot at the end. But the apple a day stunt didn't cure

:21:53.:21:55.

everyone today. I'm fed up of people whingeing. People need to

:21:55.:21:58.

wake up, go and get a job, get a life. Undaunted Birminghams mass

:21:58.:22:00.

rally beckoned Indi joined thousands of other public service

:22:00.:22:02.

workers demonstrating their frustration at the changes. No

:22:02.:22:06.

doubt there are people tonight who are angry that they spotted their

:22:06.:22:10.

Teachers protesting in this rally but the teachers say that they are

:22:10.:22:14.

doing it for the good of everybody's pension in the country

:22:14.:22:17.

and not just because -- not just for themselves. A pensions are

:22:18.:22:22.

important, especially if you want younger teachers to come in. People

:22:22.:22:27.

will be watching us and saying you should be at work. What did you say

:22:27.:22:31.

to them? If you are a teacher one day, we will do this for you.

:22:31.:22:34.

Traffic was brought to a standstill but onlookers admitted to having

:22:34.:22:38.

some sympathy with the demonstrators. They have got to

:22:38.:22:42.

take a stand somewhere, haven't they? We it is an inconvenience but

:22:42.:22:49.

I think it is right. We are suffering a lot of cuts because of

:22:49.:22:54.

this government. Unions say if the issue isn't resolved there'll be

:22:54.:22:58.

more strikes in the autumn when its unclear if the public support will

:22:58.:23:01.

be as strong. We've had a big reaction to the

:23:01.:23:06.

strike today on our Facebook page. Here's a taste of the comments.

:23:06.:23:09.

Chris Hughes, I'm in the private sector and haven't had a pay rise

:23:09.:23:12.

of any sort in six years. They don't know how good they have it,

:23:12.:23:17.

this public sector lot! Mark Rider says, what have the hard

:23:17.:23:19.

working backbone of the country done to cause the economic crisis?

:23:19.:23:22.

Who did cause the country's problems, and should it not be they

:23:22.:23:28.

who have to pay? Claire Pickering says, the only

:23:28.:23:30.

ones suffering in this are the children missing out on Education.

:23:30.:23:33.

Maybe you should think of another way before disrupting them. You

:23:33.:23:37.

soon moan if we take our kids out of school for a day.

:23:37.:23:42.

Alison Branch, I'm not a teacher. But fully support all our public

:23:42.:23:45.

sector workers who were shafted in the boom and are being made

:23:45.:23:50.

scapegoats in the bust. And you can read all the comments

:23:50.:23:56.

we've received on our Facebook page. So that's a brief taste of comments

:23:56.:24:01.

we've received. Let's go back now as promised to our Political Editor

:24:01.:24:04.

Patrick Burns, who's at Westminster. Patrick, some support for the

:24:04.:24:07.

strikers, but also criticism for the impact on education and a sense

:24:07.:24:16.

of welcome to the real world from those in the private sector.

:24:16.:24:20.

I think that those sentiments are broadly in line with the findings

:24:20.:24:26.

of a recent opinion poll which I've seen, showing that while most

:24:27.:24:31.

people disapprove strongly of teachers go on strike, there is a

:24:31.:24:34.

narrow majority also disapprove of the way the government is handling

:24:34.:24:38.

this. Plenty of scope there for public opinion to swing very

:24:38.:24:44.

strongly one way or the other and put a strong evidence on the unions

:24:44.:24:48.

or government negotiators. Can you see the Government and the

:24:48.:24:50.

trade unions ever reaching agreement/ compromising on this

:24:50.:24:53.

issue? You have to pick your way through

:24:53.:24:56.

the rhetoric on a strike day like this. Unions will say they've put

:24:56.:25:02.

down their marker for an autumn winter wave of strikes. All the

:25:02.:25:08.

other hand, you could say there is a counterpoint of you, where the

:25:08.:25:16.

unions have shown that relatively few people support them, they are

:25:16.:25:21.

isolated. There has been little disruption in the airports for

:25:21.:25:24.

example. Where do we go from here?

:25:24.:25:29.

Certainly for the time being, the talks go on a and the word at

:25:29.:25:32.

Westminster tonight is that in so far as most of the unions are

:25:32.:25:36.

concerned, they will persevere with that preferred route towards a

:25:37.:25:40.

negotiated settlement. More about the war of words between private

:25:40.:25:46.

dance public sector, blog -- private and public sector on my

:25:46.:25:56.

Compared to this time yesterday, it is looking much drier now. The

:25:56.:25:59.

showers were tamer too today but the chances of drier weather this

:25:59.:26:01.

weekend increase due to the dominant presence of high pressure

:26:01.:26:04.

although I wish I could say the same about amounts of sunshine.

:26:04.:26:10.

However, pleasant weather attracts high pollen counts. And there are

:26:10.:26:14.

no changes there this weekend. They've been consistently high now

:26:14.:26:21.

for some time. But yet again, we're looking at temperatures taking a

:26:21.:26:24.

tumble tonight to lows of five Celsius in remote, sheltered spots

:26:24.:26:33.

- quite cool for this time of year. Elsewhere, lows of eight or nine.

:26:33.:26:35.

And it's a clear, dry night which then translates into lots of

:26:35.:26:45.

sunshine tomorrow morning. But as promising as that looks to begin

:26:45.:26:48.

with tomorrow, that will gradually fade through the day with more

:26:48.:26:51.

cloud spreading in from the Northwest. It could just give off

:26:51.:26:54.

the odd spot of drizzle but it's a mostly dry day and feeling roughly

:26:54.:26:58.

the same with highs of 18 to 19 Celsius. And then we come onto the

:26:58.:27:01.

weekend, not only are the temperatures going to lift slightly

:27:01.:27:07.

but the night values will rise too. Not a lot of sunshine though, any

:27:07.:27:09.

cloud gets stuck under the very stagnant conditions of the high

:27:09.:27:19.
:27:19.:27:26.

pressure and so bright rather than That's rather encouraging.

:27:26.:27:29.

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