Strike action hits public services in Fife
PUBLIC services ground to a halt on Wednesday as thousands of workers across Fife went on strike over proposed changes to their pensions.
The Kingdom’s schools were closed for the day, council services were badly disrupted and NHS Fife patients faced cancellations.
Nationally, an estimated two million public sector workers took part in the day of industrial action in what was the biggest walk-out for a generation.
Hundreds of disgruntled employees demonstrated outside Fife Council headquarters in Glenrothes, with smaller picket lines being formed locally.
In Cupar, more than a dozen members of staff gathered outside Bell Baxter High School from 6.30am before joining the rally at Fife House.
Five unions were represented on the Cupar picket line — EIS, SSTA, GMB, Unite and Unison — and participants said they had received strong support from the public.
It is thought at least 90 per cent of teachers at Bell Baxter took part in the strike action, joined by around half the school’s support staff.
Some Bell Baxter pupils had been due to sit prelim exams on Wednesday.
Rector Phil Black said: “We made an early decision to postpone the prelims to the following Monday and we let parents know in good time.”
Around a quarter of NHS Fife staff scheduled to be on duty on Wednesday were absent.
A spokesperson said: “Regrettably, 52 non-urgent routine operations and 714 out-patient appointments have been cancelled for the day.
“Patients who are affected were contacted directly and provided with an alternative appointment date.
“There has also been some disruption across community health services.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
An estimated 45 per cent of Fife Council’s 20,000-strong workforce went on strike, disrupting a number of services including refuse collection, day care centres, libraries, recycling facilities and leisure centres.
Exemptions were negotiated for those working with the most vulnerable.
Chief executive Ronnie Hinds said: “I’d like to thank the public for their patience and for limiting calls to urgent issues.
“The priority has been to continue to provide services to the most vulnerable people in Fife.
“I’m sorry people have been affected by disruptions today.
“We will, of course, do our best to make sure any outstanding issues are resolved as soon as possible.”
Speaking ahead of the strike, Fife TUC chair Ian Waddell said: “In Fife the public sector plays a large part in the economy.
“Here, protection of jobs, pensions and services is particularly important.
“We are campaigning now to prevent serious cuts in pensions under government proposals.
“The proposals for increased pension contributions will impose a serious cut in the take home pay of all public sector workers next year.
“This is on the back of the impact the government’s pay freeze has already had on their real incomes.
“They want us to pay more, work longer and get less.”
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Weather for Kirkcaldy
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 21 mph
Wind direction: East
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South west