More than 5,000 placard-waving protesters gathered in Birmingham city centre for a mass rally over pensions and public sector cuts.
Teachers, care workers, job centre staff and a raft of other public workers filled Victoria Square as part of the largest one-day nationwide strikes for five years.
The strikers vowed to “stand together”, with one union boss predicting an “autumn of discontent”, with more widespread action planned this year.
A total of 271 schools in Birmingham were hit by the action, and at least 600 across the West Midlands.
The strike was called by members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), University and College Union (UCU), Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) and public sector union Unison.
Protesters waved banners bearing slogans including “hands off our pensions” and “say no to Gove” and marched down New Street.
The teachers were opposing the government’s pension proposals which they say will leave staff working longer, paying more and receiving less when they retire.
Doug Morgan, assistant secretary of the Birmingham branch of the NUT, which has a 5000 strong membership in the city, said the large turnout “sent a message to the heart of Government”.
He said: “The turnout has been fantastic, which just goes to show public sector workers are taking the government to task and we are prepared to win.
“Over half of the schools in Birmingham have been affected, but we wanted to put the message out that there may be a few days of disruption, but that is to stop decades of destruction.”
Mr Morgan, a history teacher, said: “There will be an autumn of discontent with more action, with more unions involved this time.
“This isn’t the end.”
UCU members at Bournville College marched from the college campus on Bristol Road South to join the rally, and other picket lines were set up by Unison care workers at Perry Tree Centre care home in Kingstanding.
Among the union leaders who addressed the crowd in Victoria Square was David Kinnen, a Midland national executive member of the ATL, who called its first strike in 127 years.
He said: “This is the first time in our history we have gone on strike.
“We stand shoulder to shoulder with our NUT, PCS and Unison colleagues to send a message to the Government that the £2.8 billion cuts to public sector pensions will not be tolerated.
“Our pensions are affordable, sustainable and reasonable.”