Further Strikes in Pipeline after Day of Action; Further Strikes in Pipeline after Day of Action Hundreds of Thousands Walk Out

The Journal (Newcastle, England), July 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

Further Strikes in Pipeline after Day of Action; Further Strikes in Pipeline after Day of Action Hundreds of Thousands Walk Out


Byline: Stephen Cape ; Alan Jones

THE biggest strike for five years closed thousands of schools and disrupted courts, driving tests and jobcentres yesterday, with warnings of fresh industrial action to come.

Hundreds of thousands of teachers, lecturers, civil servants and other workers walked out in protest at controversial changes to their pensions, which they attacked as "unfair and unjust".

Unions clashed with the Government over the impact of the strike, while labour leader Ed Miliband was told he was a "disgrace" for failing to back the action.

Mark Serwotka, leader of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, predicted that up to four million workers could be involved in strikes in the autumn if the bitter row is not resolved. PCS members will start a month-long ban on overtime from midnight, which Mr Serwotka said would hit work in jobcentres, passport and benefit offices and government departments. The PCS said it was the best supported strike it had ever held, with 200,000 taking action, but the Government put the figure at half that, saying action was "premature" while negotiations were continuing.

More than 11,000 schools in England alone were disrupted due to the walkout, according to the Department for Education (DfE). Teaching unions suggested the numbers were higher, with the Association of Teachers and Lecturers saying that around 85% of schools were fully or partially closed.

Mr Miliband criticised workers for walking out while negotiations on reform of their pensions were still ongoing, saying that while he understood the anger of the teachers and civil servants involved, the action was "wrong" and would not help them win their argument with the Government.

Addressing the Local Government Association conference in Birmingham, Mr Miliband said that under his leadership Labour would be "the party of mums and dads who know the value of a day's education". There was strong criticism of the Labour leader at a union rally in London where one speaker branded his stance a "disgrace" to loud cheers from the audience. …

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