Schools close as thousands of public sectors workers strike over pay

WALK OUT: Union members picket outside County Hall, Durham City.

Schools close as thousands of public sectors workers strike over pay

Schools close as thousands of public sectors workers strike over pay

Schools close as thousands of public sectors workers strike over pay

Schools close as thousands of public sectors workers strike over pay

First published in News
Last updated

SCHOOLS across the region are closed today as teachers join other public sector workers for a national strike.

Members of Unison, Unite, GMB and the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) have walked out alongside colleagues in the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Fire Brigade Union (FBU).

The day of disruption has been planned to highlight growing anger over pay, conditions and public sector cuts.

Hundreds of schools in the North-East and North Yorkshire have shut for the day or face disruptions.

Services run by local authorities including libraries, leisure centres, day centres for the elderly and waste collections have also been hit.

Staff working at Government departments in the region have waledk out, with the Student Loans Company and Department for Work and Pensions offices in Darlington both affected.

Many job centres, tax offices, driving test centres and courts are either closed or offering a limited service.

The Northern Echo:

Work at the Passport Office in Durham City - which has been at the centre of a national controversy over delays issuing passports - is also being disrupted.

Simon Elliott, regional secretary of the PCS union, said passport staff felt they had no choice and denied the strike would make the situation worse.

"I don't think it could get an worse," he said.

"It's because of Government policy around job cuts and office closures that these problems have occurred.

"We're faced with no alternative but to take action."

Firefighters from the FBU will strike from 10am until 7pm on Thursday as part of their ongoing dispute with the Government over pension reforms.

Union members from across the region will gather in Northumberland Road, Newcastle, at 11am today for a march and rally.

Beth Farhat, regional secretary of the Northern TUC said: “Under this government the North-East has lost 49,000 public sector jobs and the region’s public services are all the weaker for it. What’s worse is that we’re not even halfway through the Chancellor’s planned cuts.

"TUC analysis shows the average public sector worker is now on average £2,245 worse off in real terms since the last election and that’s a big loss in spending power to a region like ours.

“The government is destroying our public services while handing massive tax cuts to the richest and allowing the banks who caused this crisis to continue dishing out bonuses as usual. Collecting the taxes avoided by the wealthy and big corporations should be more of a priority rather than hammering the wages of school cooks, teachers and other public service workers.”

Nationally, more than a million people were taking part in the one-day walkout as part of bitter disputes over pay, pensions, jobs and spending cuts.

The action has been hailed as the biggest strike over pay to hit the Government since it came to power in 2010.

Home helps, lollipop men and women, refuse collectors, librarians, dinner ladies, parks attendants, council road safety officers, caretakers and cleaners are among those striking alongside teachers, firefighters, civil servants and transport workers.

The Northern Echo:

Hundreds of administrative workers at Transport for London were also on strike in a row over pay and pensions.

Picket lines were mounted outside courts, council offices, jobcentres, fire stations and Parliament in outpourings of anger over the coalition's public sector policies.

Fire chiefs urged people to take extra care because of the walkout by members of the Fire Brigades Union in Wales and England between 10am and 7pm - the 15th round of industrial action in a long-running row over pensions and retirement age.

And hundreds of thousands of children were expected to be affected as schools tried to remain open.

More than 200,000 members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) were expected to take part in the walkout.

The union's general secretary, Christine Blower, said: "We obviously think the strike will go very well, there will be many thousands of public sector workers out and that will affect a lot of schools.

"I've been getting messages from people saying that they are more determined now than they were in the past to take action."

Ms Blower insisted that industrial action is just one part of their "stand up for education" campaign, which also includes informing and working with parents and lobbying politicians.

"There are a thousand teachers in every constituency and politicians need to start listening and begin to put pressure on the Government themselves," she said.

The NUT's action, which focuses on three issues - pay, pensions and working conditions - has been condemned by the Department for Education (DfE), which said that it will hold back pupils' education.

"There is no justification for further strikes," a DfE spokeswoman said. "The unions asked for talks, we agreed to their request and talks are ongoing.

"The Secretary of State joined talks with the unions on June 25. All ministers meet with the unions frequently and will continue to do so. These strikes will only disrupt parents' lives, hold back children's education and damage the reputation of the profession."

The Northern Echo:

Members of Unison staged a demonstration outside Parliament, holding up giant "slices of bread" to symbolise that workers want more than a 1% slice of the pay bill.

General secretary Dave Prentis said: "The continuing pay freeze is damaging staff morale and service quality across the public sector, and today our members in local government and schools are saying enough is enough.

"By starving local councils of the finance they need to deliver vital public services and pay staff a fair wage, the Government is missing an opportunity to not only inject money into the economy but to create much-needed full-time jobs."

Mick Cash, acting general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, warned of wildcat strikes if changes are made to balloting laws.

"If you remove the right to strike legally or make it almost impossible, then workers will, understandably, take matters into their own hands.

"If a majority of workers in a democratic, secret ballot decide to take action as last resort over their safety or jobs but the government or a judge says you can't do that because you've not reached a threshold or because this is an essential service, it is obvious how workers with a proud militant tradition will react.

"They will eventually take their own action and you will see highly disruptive wildcat action called at very short or no notice."

The TUC has said public sector workers are on average more than £2,000 worse off under the Government, while half a million council employees earn less than the living wage.

Unison said ending the cap on public sector pay would create thousands of jobs and pump millions of pounds into the economy.

Every 1% increase in public sector pay would generate between £710 million and £820 million for the Government in increased income tax and National Insurance contributions as well as reduced spending on benefits and welfare, said the union.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: "The vast majority of dedicated public sector workers did not vote for today's action, and early indications are that most are turning up for work as usual.

"In the civil service we estimate that fewer than 90,000 members of the PCS union will not be working - this is lower than previous strike action, and just a fifth of the civil service workforce "It is disappointing that, once again, some union leaders have pushed for strike action that will achieve nothing and benefit no one. Union leaders have relied on mandates for action that lack authority - the National Union of Teachers ballot was run nearly two years ago, while other ballots had extremely low turnouts."

The strike has sparked another pledge by the Prime Minister to change employment laws so that a certain number of people have to take part in a ballot, otherwise industrial action would be illegal.

The Northern Echo:

Business leaders and leading Conservatives have been pressing for a new law, setting out a 50% threshold in ballots.

David Cameron insisted in the Commons that the "time had come" to legislate for setting thresholds and pledged to include this in the Conservative manifesto ahead of next year's general election.

Comments (9)

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11:03am Thu 10 Jul 14

Gamechanger says...

Well done to those who are prepared to stand up for what they believe in. If an 11% pay rise is good enough for MPs a decent pay rise is good enough for other public sector employees.
Well done to those who are prepared to stand up for what they believe in. If an 11% pay rise is good enough for MPs a decent pay rise is good enough for other public sector employees. Gamechanger
  • Score: 14

11:08am Thu 10 Jul 14

Jonn says...

Nobody voted for a top down revision of the NHS but the Government are doing it anyway.
Nobody voted for a top down revision of the Welfare State but the Government are doing it anyway.
They do have one thing in common though, a queue of Private firms making millions and billions.
Nobody voted for a top down revision of the NHS but the Government are doing it anyway. Nobody voted for a top down revision of the Welfare State but the Government are doing it anyway. They do have one thing in common though, a queue of Private firms making millions and billions. Jonn
  • Score: 7

11:26am Thu 10 Jul 14

caberwocky1 says...

Too many politicans in parliament are too busy protecting themselves and protecting the establishment e.g as tebbit has commented on the paedophile cover ups in the 80's...and still it continues.

no pay rise for 4 years now a below inflation wage cap meanwhile the rich(yes the likes of mr gary barlow squirrel away their money off shore).
Too many politicans in parliament are too busy protecting themselves and protecting the establishment e.g as tebbit has commented on the paedophile cover ups in the 80's...and still it continues. no pay rise for 4 years now a below inflation wage cap meanwhile the rich(yes the likes of mr gary barlow squirrel away their money off shore). caberwocky1
  • Score: 10

1:12pm Thu 10 Jul 14

behonest says...

The 11% pay rise for MPs would be a good line of attack for Labour, if Labour feels the 1% cap on other public sector workers is unfair.

However, Labour then need to be clear that they will not allow MPs to receive this 11% pay rise. They are not clear on this.
The 11% pay rise for MPs would be a good line of attack for Labour, if Labour feels the 1% cap on other public sector workers is unfair. However, Labour then need to be clear that they will not allow MPs to receive this 11% pay rise. They are not clear on this. behonest
  • Score: 1

3:01pm Thu 10 Jul 14

RealLivin says...

Just shows the corruption at the top of the pile, MP's ARE public sector workers voted for, working for and paid by the public, so if 1% is good enough for the rest of the public sector only a corrupt public sector boss will authorize a higher pay rise for him/her self. I worked for a company that almost went under but the bosses remortgaged their homes and took out bank loans in their own names to re finance the company, this company now has multi million pound contracts around the world. While I would not expect politicians to remortgage any of their multiple homes, I would not expect them to take a pay rise 10 times higher than their workers, especially when they are on 5 or 6 times more money than the workers any way.
Just shows the corruption at the top of the pile, MP's ARE public sector workers voted for, working for and paid by the public, so if 1% is good enough for the rest of the public sector only a corrupt public sector boss will authorize a higher pay rise for him/her self. I worked for a company that almost went under but the bosses remortgaged their homes and took out bank loans in their own names to re finance the company, this company now has multi million pound contracts around the world. While I would not expect politicians to remortgage any of their multiple homes, I would not expect them to take a pay rise 10 times higher than their workers, especially when they are on 5 or 6 times more money than the workers any way. RealLivin
  • Score: 4

5:04pm Thu 10 Jul 14

The Grim North says...

Overall the public sector has got off quite lightly since the financial crash. Most private sector workers have done far worse with much earlier and bigger cuts in jobs, wages and in particular pensions.
Overall the public sector has got off quite lightly since the financial crash. Most private sector workers have done far worse with much earlier and bigger cuts in jobs, wages and in particular pensions. The Grim North
  • Score: 0

5:46pm Thu 10 Jul 14

loan_star says...

behonest wrote:
The 11% pay rise for MPs would be a good line of attack for Labour, if Labour feels the 1% cap on other public sector workers is unfair.

However, Labour then need to be clear that they will not allow MPs to receive this 11% pay rise. They are not clear on this.
They won't attack it though because the majority of MPs of all persuasions will be taking this pay rise. Any MP that takes this pay rise should be honest with their electorate and let them decide at election time if they feel the MP is worth the extra money.
[quote][p][bold]behonest[/bold] wrote: The 11% pay rise for MPs would be a good line of attack for Labour, if Labour feels the 1% cap on other public sector workers is unfair. However, Labour then need to be clear that they will not allow MPs to receive this 11% pay rise. They are not clear on this.[/p][/quote]They won't attack it though because the majority of MPs of all persuasions will be taking this pay rise. Any MP that takes this pay rise should be honest with their electorate and let them decide at election time if they feel the MP is worth the extra money. loan_star
  • Score: 0

6:32pm Thu 10 Jul 14

Jonn says...

The Grim North wrote:
Overall the public sector has got off quite lightly since the financial crash. Most private sector workers have done far worse with much earlier and bigger cuts in jobs, wages and in particular pensions.
According to Government, nearly 2 million private sector jobs have been created since 2010, meanwhile, over 600,000 public sector jobs have gone since 2010 and this will rise to over 1 million by 2018. I'd hardly say that was getting off lightly.
[quote][p][bold]The Grim North[/bold] wrote: Overall the public sector has got off quite lightly since the financial crash. Most private sector workers have done far worse with much earlier and bigger cuts in jobs, wages and in particular pensions.[/p][/quote]According to Government, nearly 2 million private sector jobs have been created since 2010, meanwhile, over 600,000 public sector jobs have gone since 2010 and this will rise to over 1 million by 2018. I'd hardly say that was getting off lightly. Jonn
  • Score: 2

1:00am Fri 11 Jul 14

robbersdog says...

The Grim North wrote:
Overall the public sector has got off quite lightly since the financial crash. Most private sector workers have done far worse with much earlier and bigger cuts in jobs, wages and in particular pensions.
Sorry if I misinterpret your point but are you saying that we should stand aside and let these things happen?

With £1 billion lost to the tax payer over the sale of the post office to satisfy investors in the city should we just stand aside?

I'm not a public sector worker but I support their stance.
[quote][p][bold]The Grim North[/bold] wrote: Overall the public sector has got off quite lightly since the financial crash. Most private sector workers have done far worse with much earlier and bigger cuts in jobs, wages and in particular pensions.[/p][/quote]Sorry if I misinterpret your point but are you saying that we should stand aside and let these things happen? With £1 billion lost to the tax payer over the sale of the post office to satisfy investors in the city should we just stand aside? I'm not a public sector worker but I support their stance. robbersdog
  • Score: 0

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