Srike disruption threat

NEGIOTIATIONS are underway today to minimise disruption to schools and vital services caused by public sector strike action from four leading unions.Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council are among the authorities working to ensure services to vulnerable residents are not compromised by the proposed strike action on Wednesday .

NEGIOTIATIONS are underway today to minimise disruption to schools and vital services caused by public sector strike action from four leading unions.

Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council are among the authorities working to ensure services to vulnerable residents are not compromised by the proposed strike action on Wednesday .

Members of Unison, Amicus, the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) and the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT) all voted in favour of strike action aimed at contesting the government's plans for local government pensions.

The one-day strike across the UK will go ahead unless agreement is reached with the government beforehand.

The unions are angry at changes to raise the retirement and pension age.

They are calling for the creation of an improved local pension scheme for council workers.

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Ipswich Borough Council has been forced to postpone a meeting of the council, which had been planned for Wednesday .

It has been put off for a week to avoid a clash with the strike.

It will now take place at 6pm on Wednesday, March 30, at Endeavour House.

Suffolk County Council spokesman Francis Thomas said: "We're talking to Unison to try to make sure that certain groups of vulnerable people who rely on our services are not affected by the strike.

"We'll know more at the beginning of next week."

A Unison spokeswoman said exemptions were offered to ensure frontline services for vulnerable residents carry on despite strike action but she added the union anticipated widespread support among members in other services areas.

She said: "We're talking with our employers about possible exemptions.

"Apart from life and limb (services) in principle it will affect all council services at county and district level."

The unions are planning a rally in Ipswich town centre as well as pickets outside Ipswich Borough Council's Civic Centre headquarters.

Amicus regional officer Adrian Axtell said: "We're expecting a lot of support.

"Members are very annoyed about the situation. There's a history of low pay within the local government sector but to offset that (there) has been the pension scheme."

Weblinks: www.ucatt.org.uk; www.unison.org.uk; www.amicustheunion.org; www.tgwu.org.uk

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