July 31 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, July 10, 2014
More than 25 Havering schools are closed or partially closed today by a public sector strike which is also disrupting council services and the fire brigade.
Teachers, firefighters and council staff have staged the walk out over a series of grievances.
The government’s public sector pay freeze - which limits wage increases to one per cent a year - is one of the reasons unions representing local authority workers including carers and street cleaners have called the action.
Havering Council has pledged to do it best to maintain all council services throughout the strike action.
Its call centre as well as its public advice and service centre (PASC) may have fewer staff than normal which could lead to longer waiting times. The myplace centre in Harold Hill will also be closed throughout the strike action.
Marshajane Thompson, Unison branch secretary for Havering Council, said: “Council workers have kept on going in the face of four years of draconian government cuts to keep local services in Havering running.
“We care for your elderly and your vulnerable, we keep our streets clean and educate and look after our children.
“We deserve better treatment than they have had at the hands of this government.”
Thirteen schools have closed and another 13 remain only partially open, according to the latest information from Havering Council.
Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) are striking over workload, conditions, and the introduction of performance related pay.
NUT divisional secretary for Havering Ray Waxler, a teacher of 35 years, suggested the impact of the walk-out would be less than it could have been.
“A lot of people are finding losing a day’s pay a bit of a hardship,” he said.
“You wouldn’t think in a profession like teaching that there would be a problem, but this indicates the scale of the problem.”
He added: “For me, I wish to God that this is the last one. I think people are sick to death with strikes. We feel bad about going on strike but no one’s listening to us.
“We’ve got a situation where the government says they’re in talks with us, but all they’re about is implementation of the changes we’re against.”
The Fire Brigades Union announced last week its members would be joining other striking public sector workers. Its specific grievances relate to government changes to pensions, which include expecting firefighters to work until they are 60.
Paul Embery, London regional secretary of the FBU, said: “We think having firefighters of 60 is completely insane.
“It is physically demanding – it is not a desk job.
“So far the public support has been really good. I think they understand that it is not wise to have 60-year-old firefighters on the front line.
“We do not want to strike – no one wants to – but on this occasion it is justified.”
A government spokesperson said: “The government recognises and greatly values the contribution of public sector workers.
“The difficult decisions we have taken on public sector pay restraint since 2010 have saved around £12 billion, helping maintain front line services and thousands of public sector jobs, while still protecting the low paid.”