Impact of Essex strike action unknown

THE full impact of a strike by local government workers will not be clear until after the two-day protest has been carried out, union bosses claimed last night.

Annie Davidson

THE full impact of a strike by local government workers will not be clear until after the two-day protest has been carried out, union bosses claimed last night.

A handful of schools in the county will close during the 48-hour protest but councils across Essex have moved to reassure the public that there will be little affect.

The industrial action, which begins today and is being carried out by Unison, is in protest at an offer of a below inflation pay rise of 2.45% - with the union arguing that its workers had the lowest pay rates in the public sector.

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Hazel Corby, branch secretary for Chelmsford borough Unison branch, said employees did not have to declare union membership or inform their organisation if they were going to strike so the full impact would not be clear until the action started.

But she said refuse collections in the Chelmsford area would be affected with some rubbish possibly collected late and recycling collections delayed.

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Nigel Brown, Tendring District Council's communications manager, said the authority had been advised by Unison that there would be peaceful picketing outside the council offices at Clacton town hall today and tomorrow.

“We have been told that it will occur between 12-2pm which is the period during which council staff take their one hour lunch break,” he said. “The council is working with Unison to ensure that services to the public continue during that time.”

A spokesman for Braintree District Council said: “With an organisation of this size I would expect to see services continue.

“All services will be operating during the two days but some may suffer slightly reduced service, for example at our cash desk in Causeway House people might have to wait a little longer.

“The same could apply for ringing the customer service centre - it could take a little longer to answer the phone.

“We would ask customers to be patient if things take a little longer than usual.”

A spokeswoman for Colchester Borough Council said services would not be affected by the industrial action.

Jessica Douglas, strategic human resources manager, said: “Our local Unison branch members have confirmed they are not planning to strike on these two days. Therefore services for the residents of Colchester borough will not be affected.”

Pay negotiations between the council and Unison are currently on-going.

A spokeswoman for Essex County Council said it anticipated minimal disruption and there was a low number of staff who were Unison members.

Shorefields special school in Clacton will close during the strike while Kingsford Infant School in Colchester will see some classes affected during the protest.

The other six schools which will close or partly close are in the south of the county.

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