BOSSES ARE BRACED FOR DAY OF PROTEST; Bin Collections, Libraries and Children's Centres Hit
Byline: Les Reid
BOSSES at hospitals, the police, schools, councils and public services across Coventry and Warwickshire are today finalising contingency plans ahead of the biggest strike for a generation.
As the list of schools closing tomorrow grew to more than 100 in Coventry and 120 in Warwickshire, a raft of organisations outlined measures to minimise disruption.
More than 30 trades unions are joining forces to fight government plans to force millions of public sector workers to pay more into their pensions and work longer, with many getting less on retirement.
As we reported yesterday, council services across the board will be hit - including bin collections and street cleaning. In Coventry, there will be emergency cover for the young and elderly needing critical care.
Although police officers are banned from taking industrial action, force chiefs in Coventry and Warwickshire have ordered officers with scheduled rest days to cover for any civilian staff on strike, including police community support officers. Officers could also be drafted to police demonstrations in Birmingham and London.
Lee Bowers, Unison representative for Warwickshire police civilian staff, said it was not known how many of nearly 400 members will join the action.
Andy Gilbert, of the West Midlands Police Federation, representing Coventry police officers, said officers in contact centres and control rooms would be asked to provide "critical cover".
Warwickshire's Ch Insp Ian Whiting said: "We will be prioritising the most urgent calls first to protect people from immediate harm."
The NHS in Coventry and Warwickshire warned many services would be hit, although emergency care including maternity will be protected.
Striking workers are expected to picket outside both University Hospital and George Eliot Hospital.
Bosses at University Hospital and Rugby St Cross said some wards could be disrupted, and affected patients are being contacted.
Non-urgent services are being postponed and appointments cancelled at George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton, where non-urgent X-ray and blood test services will also be closed.
Warwick Hospital, Stratford Hospital and Warwickshire community services will operate limited services. Patients are advised to attend appointments unless they are told otherwise. Fay Baillie, NHS Coventry & NHS Warwickshire nursing director, said: "Access to emergency care and high standards of patient safety throughout this period are absolutely paramount and we are committed to ensuring this is not compromised." NHS bosses expect "little disruption" to GPs and dentists. …