Unions Take Strike Action Across York and North Yorkshire
6:51am 10th July 2014
(Updated 2:07pm 11th July 2014)
Public sector workers across North Yorkshire have been on strike today in a row which mainly focuses on a dispute over pay and pensions.
A march has been taking place through York and a rally has been taking place at St Sampson's Square in the city.
These strikers spoke to Minster FM about why they are taking action.
26 SCHOOLS IN YORK & NORTH YORKS CLOSED BY STRIKE
Six schools in York were closed by the strike action, with eighteeen partially affected by the disruption but thirty seven schools across the city were open as usual. In North Yorkshire, twenty schools were closed and forty six were partially closed by the dispute.
Ian Stevenson, Yorkshire & Midland NUT Regional Secretary said:
“The Secretary of State for Education is laying waste to the education system in concerted attack on teachers and the education service. NUT members on Thursday taking strike action will be proud to stand up for teachers, for education and for pupils and parents”
“Those who work in the public sector are essential for the well being of our children, our elderly and the vulnerable. Many work in difficult low paid employment, it is wrong that they continue to take the brunt of the government cut backs attacking their pay and pensions.”
Emily Park a member of the York Peoples Assembly has a child at secondary school and had this to say;
“I support the action taken by teachers and I am extremely disappointed my son will be in school on 10 July as the school has endeavoured to keep the school open against the spirit of the strike. The reasons behind the NUT strike in particular are intended to support our children's education. The NUT want to meet with Michael Gove to discuss the cutting changes he has made to our children's education moving the focus back into educating the children rather than making them pass exams."
“Children are not political footballs to be kicked around for Westminster to justify their lack of investment in their futures. In extremely hard times the strikers have given up their wages to stand by each other in solidarity for all our futures. Everyone will be affected by the meddling of Mr Gove, whether that be directly as a result of your child's education suffering or indirectly by the unbalanced education afforded to these children when they enter the workforce. It is in all our interests to support the strike action today and stand by each other. Together we are stronger and it is time we and Westminster realised that.”
A Cabinet Office spokesperson said:
"Most public sector workers have reported for work today and well-rehearsed contingency plans are ensuring that nearly all key public services are being delivered as usual.
"In past years, unions made inflated claims about how many they thought would participate in strike action. They were shown to be wrong.
"We can confirm that:
- only a fifth of civil servants - fewer than 90,000 - are on strike - that is down from the strike action in March 2013;
- all 717 Jobcentres opened this morning;
- the majority of schools in England and Wales are open;
- fire services are operating across the country; and
- nationally, disruption to local government services is minimal.
"Nevertheless, it is a huge disappointment that once again a handful of union leaders have pushed for irresponsible strike action, which can cause inconvenience and disruption to children's education and the lives of hard-working families. Union leaders are relying on mandates for action that lack authority - the National Union of Teachers is relying on a ballot run nearly two years ago."
NORTH YORKSHIRE FIREFIGHTERS WALK OUT
Firefighters in the Fire Brigades' Union across North Yorkshire have taken action.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said:
“The government must realise that firefighters cannot accept proposals that would have such devastating consequences for their futures, their families’ futures — and the future of the fire and rescue service itself.
“We have tried every route available to us to make the government see sense over their attacks.
“Three years of negotiations have come to nothing because the government is simply unwilling to compromise or even listen to reason despite a huge amount of evidence showing their planned scheme is unworkable.
“Shorter strike periods have illustrated the strength of feeling amongst firefighters whilst limiting disruption to the fire service, the public and our members’ working lives.
“But the government is merely ploughing ahead, forcing firefighters to react.”
The county's fire service says it has been called out to the following incidents since 10am:
- Automatic Fire Alarm (false alarm) 10:45
- Small Fire in the open 11:50
- Shed fire 13:18
- Small fire in electrical switch (out on arrival) 14:02
- 15:18 Small fire -out on arrival
15:59 Road traffic collision -no action taken by fire service
15:52 Person trapped -Person fallen approx 8 metres, ladders and manpower used
The fire service is asking that everyone takes extra care during the strike period and follows their tips below;
- Make sure you have working smoke alarms fitted on every level of your home and buy new batteries if they are needed.
- Check on elderly/ vulnerable friends and relatives prior to the strike and check their smoke alarms are working.
- Take care when cooking. More than 50% of fires, attended by the fire service nationally, start in the kitchen.
- Take special care when you are tired or when you've been drinking.
- If you’re driving somewhere make sure you drive for the weather conditions.
"A large percentage of our firefighters are retained (i.e. part-time or on-call), and many of them are not members of the FBU, because of this they were not included in the strike ballot and many will be working as normal. These staff are fully trained operational staff. As a result of this there will be many fire stations in North Yorkshire, particularly in the more rural areas, that are unaffected by the strikes. In addition to these, we will be moving some fire engines so that they are closer to locations where crews will be striking to ensure there is fire cover in place across most of the area."
"As it appeared, last year, that there would be no early resolution to the dispute we took the measure of reinforcing our emergency cover, for strike periods, by re-employing some operational firefighters, who had recently left the Service. These individuals are in addition to our existing pool of staff who are working during the strikes."
"Although we will seek to respond to all emergencies as quickly as possible this will not be a normal level of service as we will be operating with fewer than normal resources, and it is possible that it may take longer than usual for some fire engines to arrive if we are very busy."
STRIKE IMPACT : YORK
York Council says there has been disruption to garden waste collections in Huntington, with recycling and garden waste collections affected in Haxby. There have also not been recycling collections on Holgate Road, Acomb Road, Beech Avenue, Falconer Street, Lindley Street, Murray Street, Mount Parade and Mount Terrace, Holgate Bridge Gradens, Barrett Avenue and Trenfield Court.
The city council says it has prioritised the collection of grey bin and black bag waste. The advice to people who haven't had rubbish collected is to either put it out again at the next collection in two weeks time or take it to the nearest tip.
Opposition Conservatives have criticised the delay to rubbish collections, Tony Richardson, who's the party's spokesman on Environmental Services said:
"It is completely unacceptable for residents to have to wait four weeks for rubbish collection. The council knew this industrial action was scheduled to take place and it should have made reasonable contingency plans which would not inconvenience residents."
The council says Energise gym and Yearsley Pool are open as normal and it is prioritising services for the elderly and vulnerable. It has thanked people for their patience.
STRIKE IMPACT : SELBY DISTRICT
The district council says it's services are operating as normal with main services "unaffected". Although Selby Council says there may be some minor disruption. It adds it's phone lines and customer centres are still open as normal.
North Yorkshire Council says the day centre at Kingfisher Place in Selby has been closed by the industrial action. The county council is warning it may take longer to answer phone calls to it's offices due to fewer staff.
STRIKE IMPACT : RYEDALE
Ryedale Council says there has not been any significant impact on it's services with refuse and recycling collections going ahead as normal.
As in Selby, North Yorkshire Council is warning it may take longer to answer phone calls to it's offices due to fewer staff.
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