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Most of Bexley's schools closed due to strike

PUBLISHED: 13:45 30 November 2011 | UPDATED: 12:22 01 December 2011

Deputy council leader Chris Ball, who is also deputy head of a primary school, is one of those planning to strike over proposed pension changes.

Deputy council leader Chris Ball, who is also deputy head of a primary school, is one of those planning to strike over proposed pension changes.

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»Most of Bexley's schools were forced to close yesterday as scores of teachers walked out in protest at the government's plans to increase their pension contributions.

Out of Bexley’s 76 schools, 40 closed, 21 were partially closed and only 15 opened. On Tuesday council bosses estimated only 28 schools would be at risk of closure as they were left clueless as to how many of its 5,294 staff were set to walkout as part of the biggest public sector strike in decades.

Disruption

Hospital bosses were planning to put contingency measures in place with planned surgery expected to be disrupted but South London Healthcare Trust was not expecting any disruption to its emergency services.

Leader of the opposition Chris Ball – also head of a primary school – was one of those on strike. He said: “I think few public sector staff take strike action without feeling it is the last resort. It will mean losing a day’s pay and they won’t want to affect the users of the service.

“There are unions that are taking action this week, such as the headteacher’s union, that have never engaged in strike action before.

“The negotiations going on at a national level have made no progress. My understanding is that until the action was agreed by unions not a single proposal had come forward from the government.

“What is being asked for is half as much again on employees contribution. So anyone on the national average wage, which many public sector staff earn below, would mean an increase from £140 to £210 a month contribution. This is added to by being expected to work until 68 not 65.”

Refuse collections in Bexley were not affected, as previously thought.

Cabinet member for finance and corporate services, Cllr Colin Campbell, said: “I would like to thank all those who tried to help us meet our aim of maintaining business as usual.”

Negotiations are still in progress and a agreement between the government and unions is still possible.”

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