Services hit as strike action starts

VIDEO Hundreds of public sector workers are today joining picket lines as trade union Unison begins two days of industrial action.

Tom Potter

HUNDREDS of public sector workers are today joining picket lines as trade union Unison begins two days of industrial action.

Council employees are striking in protest over a below-inflation pay offer of 2.5 percent as the cost of living soars in the UK.

As picketers gathered on the doorsteps of Grafton House and Endeavour House, in Ipswich, this morning, members of the county and borough council voiced their support for the strike action.

Sarah Bradfield, council support manager at Suffolk County Council, said: “We want fair pay for local government workers and so far in negotiations, we've been offered the worst settlement.

“Inflation is up, food prices are up and petrol prices are up. We still have to live in this country and pay tax, rent and mortgage but we're expected to do it with less and less money every year.

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“We want to know why local government workers are considered less important than anyone else. It certainly can't be because our services are less important.”

Picketers say they will stand firm and remain outside the council offices until 4pm this afternoon at the earliest. They will return tomorrow until the pay dispute is settled.

Malcolm Brown, Ipswich borough Unison branch chair, said: “We don't do this sort of thing lightly. Every year, local government workers have been given pay offers at a rate lower than inflation and we are saying enough is enough.

“We're sorry if it has a significant impact on people.”

A number of non-union members crossed the picket line this morning, a few raising their dissatisfaction with colleagues and some delayed their arrival at work.

Despite a reduced workforce, both Ipswich Borough and Suffolk County Council were confident that services would remain largely operational.

A spokeswoman for Ipswich Borough Council said: “Bin collections will take place as normal but cleansing services will be limited. Otherwise the situation is the same as was anticipated yesterday.”

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said: “Some county council services will be affected, however for the vast majority it will be business as usual.”

- Do you back the Unison members? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

How services will be affected -

Suffolk Coastal District Council

Domestic refuse and recycling services could be affected. If the action prevents collection the council has issued advice for residents:

If you should have had a collection on Wednesday, present again for collection from 7.30am on Friday, July 18.

If you should have had a collection on Thursday, present again for collection from 7.30am on Saturday, July 19.

If you should have had a collection on Friday, present again on Monday, July 21.

Residents with queries can call a customer services help-line, 01394 444000 or email SCSLtd@suffolkcoastal.gov.uk

Ipswich Borough Council

The payments area at the one-Ipswich Customer services centre at the town hall will be closed.

Domestic refuse collection should continue as usual.

Staff at the West Villa homeless unit and those working for the Ipswich HEARS Community Safety service have been exempted by Unison and will be working normally.

School Closures

Special schools affected:

Belstead Special School (partially closed on both days)

Heathside Special School (fully closed on both days)

Secondary schools:

Westbourne High School (fully closed on both days)

Libraries:

Kesgrave

Leiston

Record Offices:

Ipswich

Bury

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