Strike set to bring towns to a standstill

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A STRIKE by public-sector workers that is set to cause havoc in the Dispatch district is designed to show “just how wrong-headed” the government is, claims Bulwell-based teachers’ union leader Ralph Surman.

Union officials predict that the area will grind to a halt as a result of the action on Wednesday (November 30), which is expected to involve thousands of workers protesting against pension reforms.

Mr Surman, of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), who is deputy head teacher at Cantrell Primary School in Bulwell, said members of his union throughout the UK had voted to oppose pension cuts.

He added: “While we were naturally pleased that the government made some concessions, its revised plans would still make most teachers, lecturers, leaders, non-academic and support staff pay higher pension contributions, work longer but get less in retirement. It will also exclude those working in independent schools from the teachers’ pension schemes.

“We know that ATL members are not militant people. They just want to be treated fairly. They deserve to have a decent retirement and not be forced to rely on state benefits.”

Liam Conway, of the Nottinghamshire branch of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), anticipates that up to 6,000 teaching staff will join the strike and that 90% of county schools will close.

He said: “What the government are offering is frankly an insult. This will be the biggest strike Britain has seen for a very long time.”

Martin Sleath, of the Unison union, said he expected 7,500 public-sector workers to strike, while coachloads of people were due to travel to Nottingham city centre from north of the county to set up picket lines.

A Midlands regional official for the GMB union, said results of a ballot among the members were ‘heavily in favour’ of strike action.

“For our members working within a local authority, the turnout was just over 35% while 41,941 people voted in favour of strike action, with only 8,128 against.

“For our members in the National Health Service, 5,764 voted in favour of striking with only 1,300 against. This sends a clear message that people will not stand for these cuts.”

Coun Andy Stewart, a Conservative member of Notts County Council and a former Hucknall MP, described the proposed strike as ‘disappointing’. He pointed out that the local government pension reforms were being led by the government but the action would have an impact on county council services.

He stressed that contingency plans would be put in place to ensure that vulnerable people got the services they needed.

Hucknall and Bulwell United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) MEP Derek Clark said the proposed strike sent out ‘the wrong message to youngsters’.