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Millions walk out in strike action

Strike 2

12:01am 30th November 2011
(Updated 5:26pm 30th November 2011)

Today (Wednesday 30th November 2011), the entire UK public sector grinded to a halt as two million public sector workers down tools in a walkout set to cost the UK economy £500m. Despite less than one quarter of workers voting in favour of strike action following a row over public sector pensions.

Schools, airports, the NHS, Councils, the Government and Courts across the UK suffered as a direct result of the strike, with working parents being amongst the hardest hit.

PICTURE: York rally started outside Cliffords Tower at 12pm

Strikes (Nov 30th) Cliffords Tower

Overview of the industrial action by City of York Council

City of York Council would like to thank residents for their cooperation when many of the public sector Trade Unions took industrial action today (Wednesday 30th November).

The council put contingency measures in place today to ensure key services, especially those supporting vulnerable members of the community, would be maintained.

Kersten England, chief executive of City of York Council, said:

“Our priority was to ensure all life and limb services remained open and we put contingency measures in place to ensure that happened. However, there was a certain amount of disruption, as was the picture nationally. Services will resume as normal tomorrow but there is likely to be some backlog, so I would like to thank residents for their continued cooperation.”

General statistics/figures for the strikes impact in York

An estimate of the percentage of the workforce that is not in work and presumed were on strike:

Approximately 40 per cent of all staff are union members. Two thirds were on strike (27 per cent).

An indication of the percentage of schools/closed partially closed:

11 per cent (seven) of schools fully open
29 per cent (19) partially closed.
60 per cent (39) fully closed

Any other services that have suffered major impact:

  • Social care (adults and childrens) -
    all life and limb services services covered with reduced staffing
    One childrens centre closed, linked to a school
    Youth Service operating with skeleton staff
    Senior managers working with staff in all locations
  • Waste Services - two thirds of recycling and collection rounds operated. All medical/clinical/bagged waste collected.  Commercial waste in the city centre is operated early morning and evening.
  • Housing repairs - limited service but all emergency repairs will be covered.
  • Neighbourhood Pride services - very limited service
  • Benefits - 60 percentage of staff on strike - appointments rearranged and responsive  reception and telephone services have been available.
  • Public Reception Points - 75 per centage of reception staff on strike - public directed to one reception point for housing repairs, benefits and other urgent issues. Acomb office which is open for housing repairs but not benefits.
  • Contact Centre - most staff in, numbers of calls are reduced compared to previous week.
  • Libraries - only one closure plus mobile library. Central library closing from 1pm
  • Yearsley Pool and Energise open as usual
  • All car parks are open.

PICTURE: Strike action outside York District Hospital

Strike (Nov 30th) York Hospital

Yorkshire Ambulance Service Statement about strike action

Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust would like to reassure residents across the region that it is committed to keeping the level of disruption to patient care to a minimum and its emergency ambulance service will be running on Wednesday 30 November 2011. However, The Trust is urging the public to use the service wisely for patients with serious and life-threatening conditions only.

It is anticipated that the emergency ambulance service will be operating at a reduced level between 06.00 and 18.00 when national industrial action is expected to take place which will involve members of the Trust's staff. There is also likely to be some disruption to normal services for the remainder of the day.

Executive Director of Operations Sarah Fatchett says:

"We will make every effort to get to patients as quickly and safely as possible and we will also be carrying out additional clinical triage over the telephone using doctors and senior clinicians in our emergency operations centres to ensure that we prioritise those patients who need our help the most.

"We are asking people to only call 999 for an ambulance in an emergency when it is obvious that someone has a life-threatening or serious illness or injury.

"We also ask that anyone requiring advice or treatment for a non-emergency situation or minor ailment considers options such as self-care, a visit to a local pharmacist, GP surgery or walk-in centre.

"We have also taken the difficult decision to scale back our Patient Transport Service (PTS) and will only be running an essential service for patients with renal, oncology and palliative care appointments.  Our staff have been contacting all other patients to let them know about this change and we apologise for any inconvenience caused.  If patients are able to make their own way to appointments they should check with the hospital or clinic first to ensure their appointment is still going ahead."

The Trust expects there to be a period of recovery following the national industrial action and is committed to returning to business as usual as quickly as possible.


York College response to national day of industrial action

As part of the national campaign to protest against planned public sector pension reforms, and in line with other organisations, a number of York College staff will be taking industrial action on Wednesday 30 November 2011.

The College has taken measures to ensure a safe environment for students and staff and will be open as normal, although there may be restrictions to some lessons. Students have been informed that they should attend College as usual on this date unless they are advised to do otherwise, formally, by College managers.

The York College Construction Centre at Osbaldwick, the York College Nursery and the College's Yorkshire Rail Academy will be open as normal.


Statement from North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service are expecting a very small number - less than 1% of its staff - to support industrial action on 30 November 2011. The industrial action is in protest of Government public sector pension proposals.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Andy Trowsdale says:

"A number of employees have stated their intention to take industrial action. I would like to reassure the public that this action will not affect front line services, as it is mainly administrative roles that are affected."

"Emergency calls will be handled as usual and fire crews will be working normally. The staff taking industrial action are valued members of the organisation and carry out important roles, however they represent a small percentage of the workforce and I am confident this action will not affect our service delivery. Following the period of industrial action, it is expected that support functions will return to normal."


Condemning Wednesday’s industrial action

Julian Sturdy, MP for York Outer, has spoken out against the industrial action which will take place on Wednesday
30 November across the country.

With a number of trade unions taking action, the strikes are due to cost the British economy millions of pounds with schools closing and businesses suffering from a lost day of trade.

Mr Sturdy said:

“I strongly condemn the mass industrial action which will affect a range of public services upon which our country and economy depend. The Government’s latest pensions proposals include an improved accrual rate which represents an increase of 8% on the previous pensions offer. Indeed, public sector workers on low and middle income salaries will receive a pension at least as good as they are due to receive now, if not better.”

“Let us take the example of a nurse with a salary at retirement of £34,200 would receive £22,800 of pension each year if these reforms were introduced – under the current NHS Pension Scheme 1995 arrangements, they would only get £17,300. Likewise a teacher with a salary at retirement of £37,800 would receive £25,200 each year under our proposals, rather than the £19,100 they would currently earn in the final salary Teachers’ Pension Scheme (pre-2007).”

“Sadly, as highlighted by the decision to ballot union members when negotiations were at an early stage, certain Trade Union leaders seemed intent on encouraging industrial action regardless of what the Government was willing to offer. As a result, thousands of families and businesses will lose out, costing the country millions of pounds in lost trade. Put bluntly, I urge all affected public sector workers to think again when it comes to taking such damaging action.”

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