Page last updated at 14:00 GMT, Thursday, 26 February 2009

Civil servants in pensions strike

CPSU members protest outside their places of work in Sligo

An estimated 13,000 civil servants in the Irish Republic are on a one-day strike protesting over government proposals for a pension levy.

It would mean they would have to pay more into their index-linked pensions.

It is the first industrial action of its kind for almost 20 years. There was also a picket line outside the Dáil.

The strike, by members of the Civil Public and Services Union, is affecting 62 welfare offices, passport offices and the Dáil telephone exchange.

Sinn Féin TDs are not taking part in the Dáil's proceedings on Thursday because they refused to pass the picket outside Leinster House.

Alternative appointments will be given to social welfare recipients who were unable to sign on on Thursday, but offices manned by private contractors were not affected.

With the Republic's government introducing spending cuts and raising taxes to deal with the country's financial position, the trade unions have said they agree that cuts are necessary, but they should not target the low-paid.

The controversial pension levy bill is due to be signed into law next week after passing through the Dáil on Wednesday night.

As expected the government easily won the vote on the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill.

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