Mass walk-out as more than 2,500 workers strike across Worcestershire

Worcester News: The Unison picket line outside County Hall yesterday The Unison picket line outside County Hall yesterday

SCHOOLS were crippled, bus services reduced, libraries closed and thousands of bin collections shelved as around 2,500 public sector workers went on strike across Worcestershire.

Yesterday's dramatic walk-out, the biggest co-ordinated strike effort to hit the county this century, resulted in:

- 29 schools being affected with 10 shut completely and 19 partially closed

- Around 5,000 bins went unemptied by Worcester City Council as refuse workers joined the protest

- Libraries in St John's, Stourport and Tenbury had to close and at The Hive in Worcester the original archives centre was also shut as skeleton staffing hit the building

- Worcester's two park and rides at Perdiswell and Sixways were dramatically affected, with a raft of services slashed as drivers walked out

The dispute, over a one per cent pay rise, was condemned by David Cameron yesterday but people at picket lines across the county said they felt "under attack".

At County Hall, the HQ of Worcestershire County Council, Unison said around 2,000 of its members had not gone into work.

The strikes included staff at Ringway, the council's highways service for tending to road repairs.

Jim Price, secretary of Worcestershire's Unison branch, said: "We've had a lot of support even from people who have crossed the picket line.

"The park and ride has been badly hit, which is ironic and we've all seen what it's done to libraries and schools.

"We never want to inconvenience people but they must realise what's at stake here."

Some workers entering County Hall were verbally aggressive as they crossed the line to get in.

A fellow employee at the picket line, who did not want to be named, said: "I do admin work and everyone I know is totally fed up - we've had a one per cent pay rise since 2010, it's disgusting."

At The Hive the centre was operating with skeleton staff and the original archives section had to be shut as a picket line formed outside.

Archives manager Adrian Gregson, who is also a former leader of Worcester City Council, said: "It's demoralising to be fighting against the Government, we are trying to deliver a public service here for people who really need it.

"It's not just about pay, it's about how we've been asked to do more and more for less."

People inside the building, most of whom were fending for themselves yesterday, were supportive.

Ben Campbell, 20, a history degree student at the University of Worcester said: "This whole building should be shut today, they should all walk - they've been treated disgracefully."

A spokesman for Worcester City Council, where a picket line was at Orchard House, yesterday said 5,000 recycling collections had to be postponed.

The county council said schools, buses and libraries are all due to get back to normal today after yesterday's 24-hour stoppages.

A spokesman added: "In these situations we always put contingency plans in place to ensure as far as possible essential services can continue to be provided."

FIREFIGHTERS JOIN IN THE PROTEST

ANGRY firefighters in Worcester also joined the strikes - saying they felt they had "no other option".

A picket line formed across Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service's Deansway HQ at 10am and remained in place until 7pm yesterday evening.

The Fire Brigades Union's (FBU) dispute centred around not only the one per cent public sector pay offer but pension reforms.

The changes mean firefighters are paying 14.2 per cent into their pensions compared to 11.9 per cent three years ago, and will work until 60 to draw it down.

Watch commander Adrian Farmer, who was one of scores of staff at the city picket line said: "This has gone on for long enough and we feel we've no other option.

"Imagine if your house was burning down and a load of firefighters turned up in their 60s."

Firefighter Ian Fox, 47, based in Worcester, said: "A couple of years ago we paid 11.9 per cent into our pensions and now its 14 per cent.

"Now they're talking about a one per cent pay rise. All we've seen is cuts over the years, we've had enough."

Fellow firefighter Gary Southam, 48, said: "It's a hard job and none of this is helping - we don't want to strike but we feel like we've got little choice."

As well as yesterday's walk-out, the FBU is planning eight consecutive days of strike action from this Monday.

Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service yesterday said it was operating on a "reduced response" but insisted all emergency calls would be addressed with the remaining staff on duty.

Adrian Elliott, group commander of the service, said "not all of our firefighters are members" of the union but admitted some delays in responding to calls from the public had to be expected.

Fire Minister Brandon Lewis has heavily criticised the walk-outs, saying it the union keeps "disrupting a taxpayer-funded service" with "unnecessary" industrial action.

He also insists the deal offered is deal offered is "one of the most generous pensions in the whole public sector."

He said: "Under the new scheme, a firefighter who earns £29,000 will still be able to retire after a full career aged sixty, get a £19,000 a year pension, rising to £26,000 with the state pension.

"The equivalent private pension pot would be worth over half a million pounds and require firefighters to contribute twice as much."

BINS WILL BE EMPTIED TODAY AND MONDAY, SAYS COUNCIL

EXTRA rubbish collection vehicles are being sent out today at taxpayers' expense to pick up the 5,000 bins left idle yesterday.

Worcester City Council revealed it was sending extra trucks onto the roads after around 50 per cent of household bins normally emptied on Thursdays were missed.

Bosses were keen to stress the bins were all green ones full of recyclables, so they had no concerns about rotting food.

But they also admitted because there are 5,000 to collect, some will not be addressed until Monday in the Claines area of the city.

Councillor Simon Geraghty, the leader, said: "It is unfortunate this strike action has been taken but the council is acting swiftly to ensure residents’ bins are emptied as quickly as possible.

"Three extra refuse vehicles will be in action on Friday and our plan is to collect everything by the close of play on Monday."

Bins in Rainbow Hill, Arboretum, Warndon, St Stephens and some parts of Claines will be emptied today.

Missed garden waste collections will take place on Monday, while businesses have been told trade waste pick-ups will be addressed today.

Meanwhile, amid yesterday's drama Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to include a policy in his 2015 election manifesto to impose minimum thresholds on ballots before strikes are allowed.

Mr Cameron said it "cannot be right for children’s education to be disrupted by trade unions" after teachers joined in based on a poll of just a quarter of teaching union members two years ago.

Comments (17)

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10:53am Fri 11 Jul 14

Perfman says...

They chose a good day for time off - what lovely weather we had yesterday. The local parks were full of teacher types shouting at the kids whose parents had to bear the brunt of this ridiculous action. Try the PRIVATE SECTOR - no pay rises, pay reduction "in real terms", no gold plated pensions, less holiday, more hours work required, no comfort blanket 'fat cat' union person dictating to you (that could be an advantage!)...... It really is time this people woke up to the real world and left their School mentality behind...
They chose a good day for time off - what lovely weather we had yesterday. The local parks were full of teacher types shouting at the kids whose parents had to bear the brunt of this ridiculous action. Try the PRIVATE SECTOR - no pay rises, pay reduction "in real terms", no gold plated pensions, less holiday, more hours work required, no comfort blanket 'fat cat' union person dictating to you (that could be an advantage!)...... It really is time this people woke up to the real world and left their School mentality behind... Perfman
  • Score: 8

10:55am Fri 11 Jul 14

Think for yourself says...

"...A fellow employee at the picket line, who did not want to be named, said: "I do admin work and everyone I know is totally fed up - we've had a one per cent pay rise since 2010, it's disgusting..."

Too right comrade. If there's one thing we need more of, it's public sector administrators..!
"...A fellow employee at the picket line, who did not want to be named, said: "I do admin work and everyone I know is totally fed up - we've had a one per cent pay rise since 2010, it's disgusting..." Too right comrade. If there's one thing we need more of, it's public sector administrators..! Think for yourself
  • Score: -2

11:01am Fri 11 Jul 14

New Kid on the Block says...

We are advised to leave our bin out if it wasn't collected as they are working to catch up.
Does this mean that those who went on strike will be paid overtime to do the work they would normally have done?
We are advised to leave our bin out if it wasn't collected as they are working to catch up. Does this mean that those who went on strike will be paid overtime to do the work they would normally have done? New Kid on the Block
  • Score: 6

11:21am Fri 11 Jul 14

scott.hannaford says...

Mass walk out? The County Council alone has over 18,500 members of staff.

So basically less than 10% walked out.
Mass walk out? The County Council alone has over 18,500 members of staff. So basically less than 10% walked out. scott.hannaford
  • Score: 11

11:55am Fri 11 Jul 14

canuck7 says...

I watched the government propaganda news channel the BBC last night "covering this story.. according to them it was a failure with very few turning out and very little support. the report smacked of bias and downplay.
I watched the government propaganda news channel the BBC last night "covering this story.. according to them it was a failure with very few turning out and very little support. the report smacked of bias and downplay. canuck7
  • Score: 7

12:58pm Fri 11 Jul 14

Penny R. Cade says...

Shouldn't the caption read "The Unison picket line outside The Hive yesterday". Great attention to detail as always WN...
Shouldn't the caption read "The Unison picket line outside The Hive yesterday". Great attention to detail as always WN... Penny R. Cade
  • Score: 8

1:25pm Fri 11 Jul 14

Hwicce says...

canuck7 wrote:
I watched the government propaganda news channel the BBC last night "covering this story.. according to them it was a failure with very few turning out and very little support. the report smacked of bias and downplay.
Well if only 2,500 walked out in Worcestershire and that includes the County Council and several District Councils I'd say the BBC were right and there was very little support.

Even the school closures were the odd class rather than whole schools. I still had my bins emptied so that wasn't affected.
[quote][p][bold]canuck7[/bold] wrote: I watched the government propaganda news channel the BBC last night "covering this story.. according to them it was a failure with very few turning out and very little support. the report smacked of bias and downplay.[/p][/quote]Well if only 2,500 walked out in Worcestershire and that includes the County Council and several District Councils I'd say the BBC were right and there was very little support. Even the school closures were the odd class rather than whole schools. I still had my bins emptied so that wasn't affected. Hwicce
  • Score: 8

1:34pm Fri 11 Jul 14

Bufton Tufton says...

I'm fed up with these ruddy socialist council wallah types holding the country to ransom.
I'm fed up with these ruddy socialist council wallah types holding the country to ransom. Bufton Tufton
  • Score: 4

1:39pm Fri 11 Jul 14

Perfman says...

canuck7 wrote:
I watched the government propaganda news channel the BBC last night "covering this story.. according to them it was a failure with very few turning out and very little support. the report smacked of bias and downplay.
The BBC are the propaganda arm of the Labour party, certainly not this government..........
..........
[quote][p][bold]canuck7[/bold] wrote: I watched the government propaganda news channel the BBC last night "covering this story.. according to them it was a failure with very few turning out and very little support. the report smacked of bias and downplay.[/p][/quote]The BBC are the propaganda arm of the Labour party, certainly not this government.......... .......... Perfman
  • Score: -2

1:51pm Fri 11 Jul 14

canuck7 says...

I know what you are saying.. but I be3g to differ. I believe the bbc is the propaganda arm of whatever mishmash government that happens to be in.
I know what you are saying.. but I be3g to differ. I believe the bbc is the propaganda arm of whatever mishmash government that happens to be in. canuck7
  • Score: 1

2:10pm Fri 11 Jul 14

Mike5305 says...

The government doesn't care one way or another about public services. If the public sector strike they play to the lowest common denominator and cite how we are just hitting 'hard working families'. This current government are systematically destroying public services under the cloak of 'austerity' - this is to the detriment of all ordinary people working or non working, public or private sector. We need to wake up to what is happening and defend what we want and need. Public sector employees are local people doing their best for Worcestershire ensuring that this underfunded county gets every penny from central government that it is legally entitled to for the benefit of schools, social care, roads and all of the other services that we each use and benefit from throughout our lives. I know for a fact that Worcestershire would have 10's of thousands of pounds less in the schools budget if it wasn't for the work of low paid administrators at County Hall. If you want to see public money being wasted just have a look at money being thrown at and wasted on 'commissioning;', 'free schools' and academies.
The government doesn't care one way or another about public services. If the public sector strike they play to the lowest common denominator and cite how we are just hitting 'hard working families'. This current government are systematically destroying public services under the cloak of 'austerity' - this is to the detriment of all ordinary people working or non working, public or private sector. We need to wake up to what is happening and defend what we want and need. Public sector employees are local people doing their best for Worcestershire ensuring that this underfunded county gets every penny from central government that it is legally entitled to for the benefit of schools, social care, roads and all of the other services that we each use and benefit from throughout our lives. I know for a fact that Worcestershire would have 10's of thousands of pounds less in the schools budget if it wasn't for the work of low paid administrators at County Hall. If you want to see public money being wasted just have a look at money being thrown at and wasted on 'commissioning;', 'free schools' and academies. Mike5305
  • Score: 6

3:54pm Fri 11 Jul 14

uptonX says...

Good to see that with each strike these deluded fools are increasingly ignored by the working and contributing public. Why can't the "workers" see that the Union bosses who receive banker level salaries from their "brother members" contributions are just tricking them in to taking a day of unpaid leave to further their own political ambitions - political ambitions that are mainly focussed around destroying the prospects and economy of this country.
Good to see that with each strike these deluded fools are increasingly ignored by the working and contributing public. Why can't the "workers" see that the Union bosses who receive banker level salaries from their "brother members" contributions are just tricking them in to taking a day of unpaid leave to further their own political ambitions - political ambitions that are mainly focussed around destroying the prospects and economy of this country. uptonX
  • Score: 1

3:55pm Fri 11 Jul 14

uptonX says...

And if anyone is in any doubt as to the way forward - read this. http://www.dailymail
.co.uk/debate/articl
e-2684040/Striking-s
ocial-justice-No-uni
on-militants-selfish
-deluded-I-know-I-on
e.html
And if anyone is in any doubt as to the way forward - read this. http://www.dailymail .co.uk/debate/articl e-2684040/Striking-s ocial-justice-No-uni on-militants-selfish -deluded-I-know-I-on e.html uptonX
  • Score: -2

4:59pm Fri 11 Jul 14

Mike5305 says...

uptonX wrote:
Good to see that with each strike these deluded fools are increasingly ignored by the working and contributing public. Why can't the "workers" see that the Union bosses who receive banker level salaries from their "brother members" contributions are just tricking them in to taking a day of unpaid leave to further their own political ambitions - political ambitions that are mainly focussed around destroying the prospects and economy of this country.
As opposed to the Cabinet of millionaires who I am sure have no interest in making themselves and their backers wealthier at our (that's all of us - Daily Mail readers included) expense.
[quote][p][bold]uptonX[/bold] wrote: Good to see that with each strike these deluded fools are increasingly ignored by the working and contributing public. Why can't the "workers" see that the Union bosses who receive banker level salaries from their "brother members" contributions are just tricking them in to taking a day of unpaid leave to further their own political ambitions - political ambitions that are mainly focussed around destroying the prospects and economy of this country.[/p][/quote]As opposed to the Cabinet of millionaires who I am sure have no interest in making themselves and their backers wealthier at our (that's all of us - Daily Mail readers included) expense. Mike5305
  • Score: 2

9:57pm Fri 11 Jul 14

DarrenM says...

Did anyone notice? can they go on strike for longer?
Did anyone notice? can they go on strike for longer? DarrenM
  • Score: 1

8:09am Sun 13 Jul 14

green49 says...

If your lively hood was being ebbed away, pay cuts, less hours and cut pensions , the threat of being out of work and not being able to pay your morgage or rent? i could go on, what would you do??? some of the comments on here show a selfish look and a brainwashed idea about public sector workers, YOU REALLY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOUR ON ABOUT,,,,,WHO do you think looks out for us all? NOT the MPs or councillors, NOT Hardman and his merrymen who are cutting services left right and center without knowing what they are doing, Gerathy 's comments he is dissapointed about strike action, its his implementation of Conservative policy thats causing this out cry, he and this Cowboy goverments policies which we all will suffer from and i work in the area of care etc, not for the Councils but with them and i am telling you this Goverment is EVIL in what they are doing, so you alright jacks that are envious of the Staff workers at the councils who think they get too much money and perks, (ITS the managers etc who get grossly overpaid) GO GET A JOB THERE IF YOUR GOOD enough, it amazies me how many on here can do everybody elses job better than the employed staff can, but are you any good at what you do??? Private services are not any better in fact they are poorer and cost MORE, who pays you and me the taxpayer.
If your lively hood was being ebbed away, pay cuts, less hours and cut pensions , the threat of being out of work and not being able to pay your morgage or rent? i could go on, what would you do??? some of the comments on here show a selfish look and a brainwashed idea about public sector workers, YOU REALLY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOUR ON ABOUT,,,,,WHO do you think looks out for us all? NOT the MPs or councillors, NOT Hardman and his merrymen who are cutting services left right and center without knowing what they are doing, Gerathy 's comments he is dissapointed about strike action, its his implementation of Conservative policy thats causing this out cry, he and this Cowboy goverments policies which we all will suffer from and i work in the area of care etc, not for the Councils but with them and i am telling you this Goverment is EVIL in what they are doing, so you alright jacks that are envious of the Staff workers at the councils who think they get too much money and perks, (ITS the managers etc who get grossly overpaid) GO GET A JOB THERE IF YOUR GOOD enough, it amazies me how many on here can do everybody elses job better than the employed staff can, but are you any good at what you do??? Private services are not any better in fact they are poorer and cost MORE, who pays you and me the taxpayer. green49
  • Score: 4

8:08pm Tue 15 Jul 14

Hwicce says...

green49 wrote:
If your lively hood was being ebbed away, pay cuts, less hours and cut pensions , the threat of being out of work and not being able to pay your morgage or rent? i could go on, what would you do??? some of the comments on here show a selfish look and a brainwashed idea about public sector workers, YOU REALLY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOUR ON ABOUT,,,,,WHO do you think looks out for us all? NOT the MPs or councillors, NOT Hardman and his merrymen who are cutting services left right and center without knowing what they are doing, Gerathy 's comments he is dissapointed about strike action, its his implementation of Conservative policy thats causing this out cry, he and this Cowboy goverments policies which we all will suffer from and i work in the area of care etc, not for the Councils but with them and i am telling you this Goverment is EVIL in what they are doing, so you alright jacks that are envious of the Staff workers at the councils who think they get too much money and perks, (ITS the managers etc who get grossly overpaid) GO GET A JOB THERE IF YOUR GOOD enough, it amazies me how many on here can do everybody elses job better than the employed staff can, but are you any good at what you do??? Private services are not any better in fact they are poorer and cost MORE, who pays you and me the taxpayer.
I deal with Councils every day in my job. Most of them are a complete shambles. They can't organise the proverbial party in the beer factory.

We have continuous problems with the staff being computer illiterate, some not even being able to use a mouse properly.

We ask them their business processes for things they have been doing for years and they can't tell us. They just blankly say they do X because that's what they have done for the last 10 years or so, they've no idea why they are doing it.
[quote][p][bold]green49[/bold] wrote: If your lively hood was being ebbed away, pay cuts, less hours and cut pensions , the threat of being out of work and not being able to pay your morgage or rent? i could go on, what would you do??? some of the comments on here show a selfish look and a brainwashed idea about public sector workers, YOU REALLY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOUR ON ABOUT,,,,,WHO do you think looks out for us all? NOT the MPs or councillors, NOT Hardman and his merrymen who are cutting services left right and center without knowing what they are doing, Gerathy 's comments he is dissapointed about strike action, its his implementation of Conservative policy thats causing this out cry, he and this Cowboy goverments policies which we all will suffer from and i work in the area of care etc, not for the Councils but with them and i am telling you this Goverment is EVIL in what they are doing, so you alright jacks that are envious of the Staff workers at the councils who think they get too much money and perks, (ITS the managers etc who get grossly overpaid) GO GET A JOB THERE IF YOUR GOOD enough, it amazies me how many on here can do everybody elses job better than the employed staff can, but are you any good at what you do??? Private services are not any better in fact they are poorer and cost MORE, who pays you and me the taxpayer.[/p][/quote]I deal with Councils every day in my job. Most of them are a complete shambles. They can't organise the proverbial party in the beer factory. We have continuous problems with the staff being computer illiterate, some not even being able to use a mouse properly. We ask them their business processes for things they have been doing for years and they can't tell us. They just blankly say they do X because that's what they have done for the last 10 years or so, they've no idea why they are doing it. Hwicce
  • Score: -1
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