Strike to affect public services

News 24/09/08 Ian Hood, Unison steward for the council's Children and Families Department, on the picket line outside Waverley Court
News 24/09/08 Ian Hood, Unison steward for the council's Children and Families Department, on the picket line outside Waverley Court
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KIRKCALDY will grind to a halt at the end of this month, when thousands of teachers, public service workers and NHS employees will strike against pension cuts and increased contributions.

As part of a nationwide strike, more than three million people will stop working on November 30 - with thousands of Fifers taking part.

Hundreds are expected to protest outside Fife House on the day, while dozens of union members will be in Kirkcaldy next weekend to rally support.

Skeleton staff

The strike is expected to see schools shut, health services running on low staff numbers, driving test centres closed, council services seriously reduced, and job centres on skeleton staff.

Ian Waddell, chairman of Fife Trade Union Council, told the Press with almost 13,000 Fife Council workers members of a trade union, as well as members in the health service, services are likely to halt.

He said: “The government is trying to make public service workers pay more for their pensions, get less back and work longer. It’s taking money away from the poor to feed the rich.

“Most public sector services will be cut or seriously reduced on the day of the strike. Contingency plans will be in place for vital or emergency services, for example with the health board.”

The Education Institute of Scotland (EIS), Scotland’s largest teachers’ union, announced its members will also be going on strike.

David Farmer, Fife spokesman, said: “I would think almost all of Fife’s schools will be closed on the day.

“We take industrial action as a last resort. Any strike is going to affect parents and children - that’s regrettable, but we have not been left with very much in the way of choice.”

Fife Council chief executive Ronnie Hinds said the local authority is working with unions to ensure essential services can be maintained. An alert system will be used to notify parents of any school closures on the day.

Discussion

He said: “We are in discussion with the unions in the hope that staff working with vulnerable people in Fife will be exempt from strike action.

“Management teams are looking at their business continuity plans and we will issue more advice to customers nearer the time.”

NHS Fife said continuity plans will be implemented. Patients who have an appointment for November 30 will be advised of any cancellations.