Public workers strike in row over poor pay

PUBLISHED: 10:42 24 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:04 25 August 2010

Woolwich Town Hall
Unison Strike

Bexley 17-07-08 Woolwich Town Hall Unison Strike

SCHOOLS closed and piles of rubbish were left uncollected during a two-day public workers strike.

SCHOOLS closed and piles of rubbish were left uncollected during a two-day public workers' strike.

Hundreds of Unison and Unite members from Bexley, Bromley and Greenwich councils took part in a national walk out last Wednesday and Thursday.

The industrial action was taken after unions rejected the 2.45 per cent pay increase offered by the Local Government Association.

Parents were affected as 15 schools, including three special schools, closed in Greenwich after around 100 support teachers joined Unison ahead of the strike.

Bromley's waste collection was unaffected but teaching assistants and home helpers join hundreds in the walk out.

Glenn Kelly, Bromley Unison branch secretary, said: "The strike had a major impact on services, but it is about the effect it will have nationally.

"The Local Government Association must come back with a better offer or next time we will join the National Union of Teachers who also plan to strike over pay.

"Things are heading towards a public sector general strike."

Onay Kasab, secretary of Greenwich Unison, said: "Strike action is always a last resort.

"But the role that our members play in places like special schools is vital, and it's not recognised by the below inflation pay rise offered to them."

Greenwich council run most of its services internally, so over 1,000 workers went on strike, said Mr Kasab.

Just two Greenwich libraries were kept open by management staff, and 12 other services were hit, including refuse and CCTV.

In Bexley, four of the council's 13 refuse rounds were collected and Dulverton Primary and Shenstone School were partially closed.

Yet Bexley councillors have agreed not to increase their own allowances beyond the rate agreed by the Local Government Association before 2010.

Last year they awarded themselves a 2.475 per cent increase, slightly higher than the pay rise currently being offered to council workers.

This year Bexley councillors will agree to the figure finally agreed between workers' unions and the Local Government Association.

A spokesman for Bexley council said: "Industrial action that results in the residents of Bexley not getting the services to which they are entitled cannot be justified.

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