- pay more into their pensions
- work for longer
- and accept a pension based on a "career average" salary, rather than the current final salary arrangement which many of them are currently on
The unions are: The Association of Educational Psychologists, Aspect, Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, the Educational Institute of Scotland, the First Division Association, GMB, National Association of Head Teachers, Napo (family court and probation staff), the teachers' union NASUWT, Northern Ireland Public Service Association, National Union of Teachers, Public and Commercial Services Union, Prospect, the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association, the Society of Radiographers, UCAC (one of the Welsh teachers' unions), Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians, University and College Union, Unison and Unite.
Organisers expect disruptions to courts, government offices, job centres, driving tests and council services, such as libraries, community centres and refuse collections. Highways Agency staff will be on strike, as will many Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).
Ministers expect two-thirds of schools to close, and although clinical and medical staff in hospitals will work - the British Medical Association and Royal College of Nursing are not taking industrial action - some staff in hospitals will be on strike which would cause some delays. Thousands of non-emergency operations are likely to be postponed because of the strike.
Delays of up to three hours at immigration are expected at Heathrow as border staff take part in the walk-out. The government has said no border controls will be relaxed to ease queues.
It also says it will not be calling on the Army to step in and it does not believe emergency services will be hit.
Union members will be holding pickets, marches and rallies throughout the country.
The government says the strikes could cost the UK £500m and lead to job losses. But the unions called the figures "fantasy economics" and accused the government of scaremongering.
Meanwhile, Labour leader Ed Miliband - heckled at the TUC conference for not backing the strikes and attacked by Conservatives for refusing to condemn them - said he was "very concerned about the costs of these strikes". The day before the action he said he hated the "terrible" disruption it would cause, but still would not condemn it.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said there was "no more money on the table" to settle the dispute and the government had made a "very good offer". There have been suggestions that revised offer could be withdrawn altogether if no deal is agreed by the end of the year.
Other options are to
- make use of flexible working arrangements, such as working from home or altering working hours
- take a day's paid leave, or
- ask for a day's unpaid leave
But during a previous strike, the National Association of Head Teachers warned its members against using volunteers in place of trained staff, even if they have the necessary CRB documentation, because of a host of issues ranging from first-aid training, to insurance, to behaviour management.