Yorkshire and the Humber's strike action chaos
12:01am 30th June 2011
(Updated 6:48am 1st July 2011)
There's been a rally by striking teachers on Parliament Street in York.
Over 40 schools in York were wholly or partially closed today as teachers striked.
Across North Yorkshire an additional 39 were shut and 55 in the East Ridings.
The teachers have walked out in a row over their pensions, which they say will leave them working longer, paying more and getting less when they retire.
Phil Armstrong is an economics teacher in York:
Minster FM's Louisa Maher spoke to some teachers at a rally on Parliament Street in York:
But despite a lot of support for the industrial action, some people in North Yorkshire were wholly against it:
Local MP's speak out against the teachers' strikes
With the Coalition Government's attempts to reform Britain's pensions system very much hitting the headlines at present, Julian Sturdy, Member of Parliament for York Outer, condones the potential strike action which could see civil servants and teachers taking industrial action this week.
Staggeringly, less than 10% of civil servants voted for strike action this week with less than 22% of teachers doing likewise. Overall expenditure on pensions is now £32bn, an increase of a third over the past decade.
Commenting on the potential strikes, Mr Sturdy said:
"Reforming public sector pensions is neither a pleasant nor easy task. However, we must face up to the realities of the situation. We have an ageing population, longer life expectancy and an unprecedented budget deficit. It is also the case that public service pension benefits continue to outpace private scheme benefits."
"Despite the Coalition's reforms, public sector pensions will still be among the very best. They will, of course, be guaranteed, something that very few private sector workers now enjoy."
"Remarkably few public sector workers voted for these strikes and as a result hundreds of schoolchildren may see their schools shut on Thursday, causing great inconvenience to families across York."
"The long-term goal of these reforms is not to penalise public sector workers unfairly, but to secure the future of our pensions system for the sake of our future generations. When in power, Labour took the easy option and failed to adequately tackle Britain's pensions time bomb. Once again, it falls to the Coalition Government to take the responsible, long-term initiative on such matters"
"In the meantime, I very much hope that industrial action can be averted and that positive talks between the Unions and the Government continue."
Selby and Ainsty MP, Nigel Adams added:
In the week that trade unions are preparing for a summer long campaign of disruption to public services, Selby and Ainsty MP, Nigel Adams has spoken of his dismay that North Yorkshire taxpayers are currently paying almost £200,000 towards the salaries of union officials whilst important local services are said to be under threat.
Responding to information forwarded by a North Yorkshire councillor, Nigel Adams said:
“Many North Yorkshire taxpayers will be outraged to learn that they are paying the wages of officials working for wealthy trade unions who are planning to strike and bring disruption to services across the county”
North Yorkshire taxpayers have in the last twelve months been told constantly about the need for cuts to services and charity grants yet £200,00 is being spent on trade union activists, an amount which could easily picked up by the unions themselves.
Across the country there are currently around two and half thousand public sector workers who are paid not to do the front-line service they are employed to do, but instead to work full or part time for their trade union. As the taxpayer is picking up the bill, the subscription fees that the unions raise from their members can then be spent on other activities, such as striking, campaigning or keeping the Labour Party afloat.
Mr Adams added:
“It is absolutely fair that if employees want to be represented by a trade union, they should have that right, but the wage bill should be picked up by the trade union, not hard working taxpayers who are going to be the victims of industrial action which is being whipped up by the unions”
“At a time when there is a lot of protesting over cuts due to the catastrophic financial position left by the previous Government, not least from the Labour party and union activists, here we have a huge amount of North Yorkshire taxpayers money being spent on paying the wages of the activists who are doing the protesting. This use of taxpayers money is not justifiable and is plain wrong.”
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