Services will suffer as strike hits

PUBLIC sector strikes could cause disruption to services this week as a result of a pay dispute between the government and union bosses.

Tom Potter

PUBLIC sector strikes could cause disruption to services this week as a result of a pay dispute between the government and union bosses.

Unison expects 600,000 members to walk out tomorrow and Thursday to protest over a below-inflation pay offer of 2.45 percent, but Ipswich Borough Council is hoping to maintain most services during the national two-day strike.

UNISON Eastern Regional Head of Local Government, Ian Barber, said: “A 2.45pc pay offer is quite clearly an insult to those dedicated workers such as teaching assistants, school meals staff, refuse collectors and cleaners after ten years worth of below inflation pay rises.

“Strike action is a legitimate way of getting their message of dissatisfaction across to the employers.”

The strike will affect anyone in the public sector from social workers to street cleaners and is likely to have an impact on schools in the area.

Most Read

Teaching assistants, school clerical staff and dinner ladies are being called out but not teachers, who are part of a different union.

Heathside Special School, in Ipswich will be closed and Belstead Sschool, in Ipswich has announced partial closures.

Westbourne School yesterday sent letters to parents saying the school will close on safety grounds.

A letter from head teacher Chris Edwards said: “At Westbourne members of this union carry out many vital functions that not only support the organisation of the school but ensure the safety and well being of our students.

“As a result I will have to close the school on safety grounds for two days.”

Ipswich Borough Council is confident that almost all other facilities will remain open. Domestic refuse collection is expected to continue, along with a reduced trade waste service and the town centre and out-of-town shopping areas are expected to be cleaned in the mornings and evenings on both days.

The one-Ipswich Customer Services Centre at the Town Hall should be open on Wednesday afternoon and all day Thursday but the payments area will be closed.

An IBC spokesman said: “Customers are advised that queue times might be longer than normal.

“Council staff who are working might not be able to answer all telephone enquiries but answerphone facilities will be in place.”

Area housing offices should be open, according to the council, though the North West office will be closed on Wednesday.

Crown Car Park should be open and a car parking enforcement service will be in place but the lifts and public toilets might be closed if staff do not turn up.

Crown Pools and other sports centres are expected to be open. In the parks, the parks patrol and ranger services should be running normally.

The crematorium is unlikely to be affected. New bookings were suspended when the Council learned of the strike action. The few services taking place should not be affected.

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.