Strike to hit public services

November 30 is gearing up to be a day of disruption across the North West with many public services - including schools, buses and trains - expected to close down as part of strike action.

Lecturers represented by the University and College Union (UCU) are the latest public sector employees to announce they will join the strike which includes health sector members, teachers and headmasters, and local government staff.

More than two million workers across the North and in Britain are expected to walk out on November 30 in protest at British government reforms that unions say will leave them paying more, working longer and receiving less when they retire.

The largest union of teachers in Northern Ireland has voted to back the one-day strike action.

Members of the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Woman Teachers voted 76 per cent in favour of the strike after a 37 per cent turnout.

Its Northern Ireland organiser Séamus Searson said the action would protect the education service in the North.

“We see the education service under attack. The cut in the block grant here in Northern Ireland means that there will be redundancies, which means the children will miss out. As a result we think this action is necessary.”

Members of the National Association of Head Teachers, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Irish National Teaching Organisation have already voted in favour of the walkout.

And, yesterday, the University and College Union (UCU) confirmed that its members were backing the strike action on November 30.

Regional Official Jim McKeown said: “UCU members who are in the Northern Ireland Teacher’s Pension Scheme are angry at the proposals to make them work longer whilst having to pay more into the scheme even though it is financially sound.

“The Teachers Pension Scheme was revised in 2007 and viability costed on a 50 year projection from then – these latest increases on teachers contributions are nothing more than a stealth tax which will go straight to UK government coffers. Furthermore linking teachers pensions to the Consumer Prices Index will cut the future income of people who retire by around 15%. These proposals are neither fair nor necessary.”

Unite, whose members include bus and train drivers, have also backed the strike action, meaning a potential disruption to public transport.

Unite’s Irish regional secretary Jimmy Kelly said: “Yet again public sector workers are telling the Government that enough is enough.

“This is the courageous defence of their savings by the backbone of this country; the people who day in, day out, care for our young, our frail, our elderly, our homes, streets and parks; the people who, after decades of loyal service to this nation, will be lucky to have £5,600 per year to live on.”