Services disrupted after pay walk-out

SERVICES across Suffolk are expected to face disruption today due to a massive walk-out over pay - but council bosses insisted last night it was “business as usual”.

Danielle Nuttall

SERVICES across Suffolk are expected to face disruption today due to a massive walk-out over pay - but council bosses insisted last night it was “business as usual”.

Fourteen schools in the county will close and some libraries and record offices will be shut as a result of the two-day strike action by trade union Unison, in protest at a below-inflation pay offer of 2.45%.

Residents have also been warned some rubbish collections could be cancelled and calls to service centres might not be answered.


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The walk-out will involve 600,000 Unison members across the country, including home carers, social workers, librarians, highways staff, school support staff, cleaners, receptionists, caretakers and caterers.

Helen Muddock, acting branch secretary of the Suffolk county branch of Unison, said last night 250,000 employees in the public sector earned less than £6.50 an hour.

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“They can tolerate these cuts no longer and cannot afford to accept a continuance of the below-inflation pay increases they have suffered for 10 years,” she said. “They will be standing together on 16th and 17th July to send a clear message to the employer that enough is enough and they will no longer be exploited and devalued while providing quality services and care to some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

“Although strike action is always the last resort, they now feel that the only way to put a stop to the exploitation of public sector workers is to join together, stand united and force the employers to return to the negotiating table.”

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

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.”

A spokesperson for Babergh District Council said services would not be affected at all as their staff are subject to local agreements so are not subject to national pay disputes.

A spokeswoman for St Edmundsbury Borough Council said the impact of the strike would be “minimal”.

“Only 26% of St Edmundsbury Borough Council staff belong to Unison,” she said. “The areas most likely to see any action are environmental health and housing and waste management and the council is confident that we have the services covered.”

Andrew Nunn, cabinet member for the green environment at Suffolk Coastal District Council, warned there could be a knock-on effect to services on Friday and next week.

“At this stage, it is impossible to judge how the services that Suffolk Coastal provide will be affected but we have plans in place to catch up as quickly as possible,” he said.

A spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council said it was hoping to deliver most services during the national two-day strike.

A spokeswoman for Forest Heath District Council said: “Our cash offices in Newmarket and Brandon could be closed, but we are aiming for business as usual across other services. Pickets are expected at our College Heath Road offices.”

A spokesman for Waveney District Council said: “We are of the view that there won't be a huge amount of staff striking but we will be addressing the situation on an hour by hour basis and if services are affected we are usually able to cover any shortfalls.”

A spokesman for Mid-Suffolk District Council was unavailable for comment last night.

How services across Suffolk 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.

A car parking enforcement service will be in place.

Crown Pools and sports centres are expected to be open.

Domestic refuse collection should continue as usual.

The crematorium is unlikely to be affected, new bookings were suspended but planned services will be taking place.

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.

Forest Heath District Council

Cash offices in Newmarket and Brandon could be closed.

Pickets are expected at the College Heath Road offices.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council

Environmental health and housing and waste management services could be affected.

Babergh District Council

No services will be affected.

Waveney District Council

All services are expected to be running as usual.

Mid Suffolk District Council

The council were unable to give details about expected disruptions.

School Closures:

Special schools affected:

Belstead Special School (partially closed on both days)

Heathside Special School (fully closed on both days)

Warren School, Lowestoft (fully closed on both days)

Priory School, Bury St Edmunds (fully closed on both days)

Riverwalk, Bury St Edmunds (fully closed on both days)

Primary Schools:

The Albert Pye CP School, Beccles (fully closed on both days)

Middle Schools:

Beccles Middle School (fully closed on both days)

Gisleham Middle School (fully closed on both days)

Lothingland Middle School (fully closed on both days)

Pakefield Middle School (fully closed on both days)

Worlingham Middle School (fully closed on both days)

Secondary schools:

Westbourne High School (fully closed on both days)

Pupil Referral Units:

Old Warren House, Lowestoft (partially closed on Wednesday but fully open Thursday)

Hampden House, Sudbury (closed)

Libraries:

Clare

Kesgrave

Lavenham

Leiston

Record Offices:

Ipswich

Bury

Lowestoft (Wed only)

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