Strike action disruption

TEACHERS, health workers and council employees will strike on Wednesday over Government proposals to reform public sector pensions.

Under the proposals, pensions will move from final salary to career average, employee contributions will rise, and workers will have to work longer.

Members of unions including Unison, GMB and teachers’ unions NUT and NASUWT are taking industrial action.

The number of schools which will be forced to close as a result of the strike action is not yet known, but Purwell Primary School in Hitchin has already confirmed closure.

Headteacher Mr Cano said: “Most, if not all, senior staff and teachers will be out on that day and it would be impossible for me to ensure the safety and security of any of the children.”

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Principal of Samuel Whitbread Community College in Clifton, Robert Robson, said “it is very likely” the school will be closed for students in Years 9, 10 and 11 as “the vast majority of the teaching staff” are members of the unions taking strike action.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said: “NUT members reject the Government’s attack on public sector pensions.

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“The NUT and the other teaching unions do not accept that our members should pay more, get less and work longer for pensions which we believe are already affordable and fair.”

Herts County Council (HCC) has stressed that it is working to protect essential services on Wednesday, while Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) has said it will have “a better picture” as to “the extent services will be affected” at the end of this week.

Service disruptions will be posted on CBC’s website nearer the time.

Disruption to rubbish, recycling and garden waste collections is expected in Stevenage, with the borough council anticipating that any collections not made on Wednesday will be completed on the Saturday (December 3).

Other Stevenage Borough Council services are also “likely” to be reduced or unavailable, said a spokesman.

She added: “The council will make every effort to keep any disruption to a minimum, and in particular will concentrate attention on services for residents who are most vulnerable.”

North Herts District Council (NHDC) is also anticipating service disruption. “We are in talks with Unison at a local level to ensure that services for vulnerable residents and other critical council functions can still be retained amidst potential disruption to other services,” said Cllr Lynda Needham, NHDC leader.

Assurances have been given that emergency services at Lister Hospital in Stevenage will not be affected by the strike action, but delays to routine care are expected.

Lister spokesman Peter Gibson said: “We have been meeting on a daily basis so patients can get the care they expect, and hopefully they will do.”

Check for updates as the consequences of the strike action unfold.

A full list of affected schools will be placed on Hertfordshire County Council’s website when the local authority is alerted.

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