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Thousands of Dorset workers join in public sector strikes
Updated 4:58pm Thursday 10th July 2014 in News
This live event has finished
- Teachers, firefighters, council workers and civil servants are among those taking part in today's public sector strike.
- A number of schools are closed or partially open today across Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch, East Dorset and Purbeck.
- Many council services are set to be disrupted by the one-day walkout with trade unionists set to protest outside the Local Government Association conference in Bournemouth.
- Bournemouth's council leader John Beesley had criticised the strike and said there would have to be more job losses if higher pay was approved nationally.
- Refuse and recycling collections are suspended in Poole today and residents have been advised not to put their bins out
- Firefighters are on strike until 7pm tonight
That's all our coverage for today. Thanks for taking part and giving your views in the strike.
You can read stories on the rally and Nick Clegg's reaction to the strikes below:
- "We want fair pay" - hundreds of workers take part in march on day of strike action
- Nick Clegg: Strike action not justified when parents and pupils are disrupted
- Steam ban hits historic train excursion on day of strike action
Thanks to all those of you who have taken part in our poll today.
47% of you support the strike and believe it to be the workers' right to take part in industrial action
We've heard from Borough of Poole about how many workers have been involved in the strike action today.
Carl Wilcox, Head of Human Resources, Borough of Poole, said: “We estimate that around 7% of staff took part in the planned industrial action today. Borough of Poole has worked hard to maintain its services and minimise impact on residents.
“Some services were disrupted however, with several schools partly or fully closed, and refuse and recycling collections suspended for the day. All other council services were able to operate as normal.”
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg arrives at Cobham factory in Wimborne @Bournemouthecho http://t.co/NgaW6SBggC— @SallyDailyEcho 10 July 2014
At Cobham, where deputy PM Nick Clegg is having a factory tour. Mid Dorset and North Poole is a key seat, Lib Dem at mo but top Tory target— @MelVassEcho 10 July 2014
Nick Clegg is at Cobham to talk about apprenticeships but his visit shows how important seat is to Lib Dems.— @MelVassEcho 10 July 2014
Bournemouth council has posted the following update which includes details on how many staff have taken part in today's industrial action:
Today’s industrial action has had a low impact on Council services.
We have prioritised essential frontline services and put in place contingency arrangements to minimise disruption to residents.
In total 141 Council staff have taken industrial action which equates to 5.46% of the workforce.
We've been sent this picture of a group of people who have taken part in today's rally outside the BIC
And here's the video footage we promised you earlier of the rally outside the BIC
Here are some pictures of the rally from a little earlier
We're just uploading some video footage of workers and union officials taking part in a rally outside the BIC which we'll have online for you shortly.
There are lots of social workers on the march. One, Dee, tells me: "We're massively understaffed, we're having to do more for less."— @MelVassEcho 10 July 2014
Bournemouth council leader John Beesley didn't want this rally outside the BIC as he said it would send out "the wrong message,"— @MelVassEcho 10 July 2014
Between t200 - 300 workers and union officials are outside the BIC, where the Local Government Association conference is taking place.— @MelVassEcho 10 July 2014
Ferndown library worker Carol Freeman said: "There are so many low paid women who work for the county council. People are struggling."— @MelVassEcho 10 July 2014
Bournemouth social worker Heather Cusack is here with 2 yr old dtr Robyn Payne. She describes 1 per cent pay offer as "an insult."— @MelVassEcho 10 July 2014
The march is setting off now, travelling to the BIC. There are a lot of people in Victorian themed fancy dress.— @MelVassEcho 10 July 2014
I'm at the union rally at Bournemouth Pier. Care assistant Chris Miles tells me he is 40p an hour better off than if he worked at Tesco.— @MelVassEcho 10 July 2014
He said: "We're expected to do a lot for that, we look after vulnerable people. I'd like to see people who do this job paid a decent wage."— @MelVassEcho 10 July 2014
Bournemouth council has put out the following information on refuse and recycling collections:
Some service disruption with 23% of the workforce taking industrial action. Residents should put out as normal all bins that are scheduled for collection today. Please put any uncollected bins out every week day (so, NOT Saturday or Sunday) until they have been emptied. Every effort will made to catch up all missed bins, whether refuse, food, recycling or green waste, within one week.
Dorset Fire & Rescue Service should have at least half of its fire appliances operating today, despite many of its firefighters going on strike.
Fire Chief Darran Gunter has assured members of the public 999 calls will be answered, but says priority will be given to calls where lives are in danger or someone needs to be rescued
He added: “If we respond to non-emergency calls than those most in need, could be at risk, so please only ring 999 if a fire engine is really needed.”
This is the fifteenth Fire Brigades Union strike since September.
Industrial action is planned today until 7pm.
Our reporter Mel is off to cover a rally which is due to take place shortly.
Union members are due to assemble by the pier and march up to the BIC where the Local Government Association conference is taking place.
We'll have some updates for you from the scene.
@CorinDailyEcho @Bournemouthecho How about a school that is open. Plenty of them. Ashamed of all striking teachers.— @anthea_bailey 10 July 2014
11:59am Thu 10 Jul 14
As a local self employed Toys & Puzzles shop owner, this year has seen me taking a pay cut. we are all feeling the pinch but striking and causing people to take day off to look after their children, or events organised having to be changed, is wrong. We would all like to live in a world that pay more money for less hours and gives us more when we retire but that is not the case. Surly no pay rise is better than people being laid off work. Those that strike get no support from me.
@CorinDailyEcho @Bournemouthecho where do Parents send the invoice for lost earnings/child are bills to?— @NickWellstead 10 July 2014
A Network Rail spokesman told our reporter Jim: “Whenever there have been fire strikes in the past one of the repercussions is that we cannot allow steam trains to run on the network.
“In the days when the railway was largely operated by steam, the trains kept all the trackside vegetation cut back because, basically, they kept setting fire to the stuff.
“Today most of our trains, on our much greener railway, are diesel or electric, and we have many trees trackside. Unfortunately, this means steam trains do pose a bit of a fire risk.
“Normally, to accommodate steam enthusiasts, it is manageable – but it does mean that if there is a fire strike we have to impose a safety ban.”
We have some more information on the tweet we posted earlier about the effect the strike was having on a historic train excursion that was due to steam into Swanage station.
Surrey-based Steam Dreams, who operate the Cathedrals Express, were set to run a steam train from London Victoria to Swanage.
However, because Dorset firefighters from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) are supporting the walkout, Network Rail ordered the company to replace the steam locomotives with two diesel engines as a safety precaution.
Steam Dreams confirmed they have been barred from operating a steam locomotive on the mainline while the fire strike is taking place.
This comment has been posted by one of our site users below
10:56am Thu 10 Jul 14
Ziggy starburst says
Bla bla it's not fair, I don't get a pension. I'm in the real world. I can't afford to heat my home so why should they. I haven't had a holiday for 3 years and I heard that teachers have 40 holidays a year. I haven't got a fire engine, why should they have a fire engine. That's not fair. I'm happy to blindly join in the race to the bottom by relating everything to myself. There IS enough money to go round, it's just that it isn't being shared equally. It's all being passed upward to the rich right under your noses and YOURE supporting THAT instead of teachers, firemen etc. If you can't be bothered to support them (and each other) you deserve your zero hours contracts that you are either on now or will be in a few years time. You've only got yourselves to blame. I support anyone who is giving up a days pay for decent working conditions. It says something of the state of this country that there is a debate on a living wage. There shouldn't even be a debate. People should have enough money live on, especially when they are employed by billion £ tax dodging profit making corporations, who are the ones ripping the country apart. And no, I'm not a public sector striker before the daily mail brigade wade in.
RT @PooleUNISON: Selfie on the picket line #j10 @UNISONSW @unisontweets http://t.co/xbkA2nfX1U— @jamie_fry 10 July 2014
Joanne Kaye, regional secretary for Unison, said many workers were relying on benefits to supplement their wages and would be better off working at Tesco’s.
She said: “We know that last year Bournemouth put £66m back into its reserves at a time when members have spent all their savings and are living on credit.”
She added that paying workers more would give them more disposable income and boost the local economy.
Youth advisors Lorna Clark and Angie Craig, who support people with learning disabilities, said they were striking to raise awareness of staff in poorly paid positions.
Lorna said: “I work in schools and recognise that teaching assistants get paid particularly badly. I don’t know how on earth they live on it.
“But from our point of view, we haven’t had a pay rise for three years, followed by a one per cent rise. It is not easy for anyone.”
Angie added: “One per cent will mean absolutely nothing to people on very low wages. Take away inflation and it is a pay cut.”
Kings Park Primary School in Boscombe which is also closed due to strike action today. @Bournemouthecho http://t.co/FckRQtj8Qb— @CorinDailyEcho 10 July 2014
An empty playground at Kings Park Primary School in Boscombe due to strike action today. @Bournemouthecho http://t.co/xyVlN8cFcz— @CorinDailyEcho 10 July 2014
@Bournemouthecho Strange repercussion of fire strike. Steam-hauled special train down to Dorset now diesel only. #unhappytrainspotters— @JonSmallwood 10 July 2014
An interesting view from one of our commenters
10:34am Thu 10 Jul 14
If the public sector workers can legally strike to not provide their time then I should be able to legally strike to not pay the council tax towards their wages.
Labour group leader Cllr Ben Grower, a trade unionist for 40 years, is at the Town Hall supporting the staff walkout.
He said: “I believe everybody has the right to strike especially those who are being underpaid and whose pay and conditions have been eroded so much over the last few years.”
He said the blame lay with the Government and not with Bournemouth council and said: “What’s incredible is that Iain Duncan Smith has just wasted £600m on a computer system that doesn’t work for universal credit yet he can’t find money to pay local government workers. He is at the BIC for the Local Government Association conference today, if I get a chance I will ask him about that.”
Dave Higgins, Bournemouth council’s Unison representative, is also outside the Town Hall.
He said: “We’ve been trying to sort this out across the negotiating table since 2010 and it just hasn’t worked.
“We’ve done everything in our powers and now members have said enough is enough and voted to take action.
“It’s not something we like doing because we care about the people we look after but it’s our only option if negotiations fail.”
St Clement's and St John's School in Boscombe which is closed to pupils due to strike action today. @Bournemouthecho http://t.co/W4BzbRFVWK— @CorinDailyEcho 10 July 2014
@beatlesaint @ollieethell @Bournemouthecho talk to anyone in the service industry. All working in tough conditions. Got a job? Be thankful!— @ChristineLake2 10 July 2014
We're getting a lot of reaction from our followers on Twitter today. We'd love to hear your thoughts on the strike action.
You can get involved by leaving a comment below or by tweeting @Bournemouthecho
If you strong agree or disagree with any of the tweets we've published so far then we'd love to hear your views!
@Bournemouthecho If teachers don't like their Terms & Conditions they are free to leave at any time! They are looked after well!— @SwainElectContr 10 July 2014
Mike Cracknell, Unison regional organiser, is at the picket line outside the town hall.
He said: “The current offer (of 1 per cent) is woefully inadequate for our members to survive on.
“Many are having to resort to foodbanks to have to make ends meet. All we’re asking for is a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.
“We’ve had a lot of support from the public, many people passing by today have been hooting their horns.
“We hope it will make some difference but of course this is the start of a strategic campaign to secure a reasonable increase after year after year of pay freeze.”
Borough of Poole have also said both lifting bridges are fully operational and services other than refuse and recycling are operating as normal.
@ollieethell @Bournemouthecho I agree 100%.We are all having our pensions hit. Like you say, If you don't like it get out.— @ChristineLake2 10 July 2014
There is currently around 20 council staff and union officials outside Bournemouth Town Hall.
Sandi Webb, an antisocial behaviour officer, said: “I’m here today because I want fair pay for all the public sector workers that have come out. We just want a decent salary.
“We’ve had an 18 per cent pay cut in the last four years and the cost of living is rising. Food and fuel bills have gone up, my mortgage has gone up but my salary hasn’t.
“I’m a single parent with three teenage children so I’m really feeling it. And I think a lot of council staff suffer silently.”
Andy Geeves, of the GMB Union at Bournemouth council, said there was a picket line at the council’s Southcote Road depot from 4am.
He said the strike was well supported by refuse workers and only 10 out of 23 refuse lorries going out this morning.
He said some of these were under capacity with only one loader on board.
He said highways and street cleansing was also affected and the council had brought in agency staff to try and cover the rounds.
Live in Poole? your refuse and recycling collections are suspended today. Borough of Poole have posted the following update on their website:
Refuse and recycling collections are suspended. Residents are advised not to put their bins out, and not to contact us to advise of missed bin collections.
We anticipate that garden waste collections will also be disrupted however we ask residents to place their green bins out for collection in the event services do operate. If your green bin is not emptied today, please report the missed collection tomorrow using the Report It page.
The council will collect additional refuse and recycling for those residents who miss a collection today with their next scheduled collection. Bagged refuse and recycling will be collected on this occasion only in addition to waste in black and blue bins.
A national FBU strike is now underway. We'll be providing a reduced emergency response between now & 7pm. If you need us please call 999.— @DorsetFire 10 July 2014
The firefighters’ dispute has continued for months as the FBU says firefighters are facing the imposition of a pension that ignores the physical demands of the job they do.
Matt Wrack said: “Despite endless assurances they have done precisely nothing to address the threat to firefighters as their fitness declines in their 50s.
“Firefighting is a dangerous and physically demanding job which requires specific fitness standards.
“It is obvious to everyone that it is more and more difficult to meet those standards in your 50s compared to your 20s.
”Firefighters in that position face a stark choice of being sacked or losing half their pension.
“This is outrageous and all the claims that the government values our firefighters have been exposed as an utter lie.
“They need to wake up to the fact that we are not going away and we will be continuing our fight for pension justice.”
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “The FBU has wanted to settle our dispute for a long time, but the government at Westminster is simply not listening.
“We are therefore proud to take strike action alongside our colleagues in other unions on 10 July.
“The fact that this government has united so many workers to take strike action against them is a testament to the failure of their policies.
“They are destroying our public services and wrecking the lives of millions.
“If they won’t listen and won’t negotiate then this is the result — and they should face more of the same if necessary.”
Firefighters in Dorset have joined hundreds of thousands of other public sector workers taking strike action today.
The long-running dispute over firefighters’ pensions has resulted in a further day of strikes at the same time as the walk out by local government workers, teachers and civil servants over a range of issues, including attacks on pay and pensions and workloads, says the Fire Brigades Union (FBU)
@Bournemouthecho I don't support them at all. If I wasn't happy with my pay I would leave and get another job. Simples.— @ollieethell 10 July 2014
Live in Christchurch? Dorset For You issued the following advice to residents on their website:
Christchurch Borough Council will be operating as normal on Thursday 10 July and arrangements are being put in place to minimise disruption to services during the nation-wide industrial action. The council offices will be open as usual, however, people telephoning the council may experience longer waiting times than normal.
The Unison picket line outside Bournemouth town hall this morning. @Bournemouthecho http://t.co/YTfZO1mOLL— @CorinDailyEcho 10 July 2014
An update on what's happening in Poole:
A small picket greeted staff and visitors to Poole Civic Centre this morning, with one placard-bearing union member on each of the entrances to Borough of Poole’s offices.
@Bournemouthecho Nope, everyone should be self employed, earn when you work, paid what you're worth....— @StuartMc1 10 July 2014
We've had the following statement through from Joanne Kaye, UNISON South West Regional Secretary:
“All of our members who work in Local Government contribute to the quality of life for all our citizens, in towns, cities and villages. They clean the streets, empty the bins and make sure the street lights come on at dark. They care for the elderly in their own homes or in residential care.
“All of these jobs are done in a climate of vanishing resources. The plasters on the grazed knees are all too often brought in by the school secretary herself. The home carer, given 15 minutes to care for an elderly person, who knows they will be the sole face that person sees all day, stays longer, working for free because walking out on time is too hard.
"365 days a year, our members work in roles they love, but which often take a huge emotional demand. And in return, they are told they cost too much, their pay is frozen year on year and then a desultory 1% offer is made. In 2010 when the chancellor announced a public sector pay freeze, with £250 for those earning less than £21000, workers in Local Government were left out. School cleaners were told they were worth less than a government office cleaner, even though research shows overwhelmingly that money earned in wages is spent in local businesses and boosts the economy.
“Our members can no longer be placed in the intolerable position of struggling with basic bills, week in and week out. Every week UNISONs Welfare Charity makes hardship payments of £13,000 to struggling families, we are a wealthy country and this is a scandal.”
“Council workers have kept on going in the face of four years of draconian Government cuts to keep local services across the South West running. They care for our elderly and our vulnerable, keep our streets clean and educate and look after our children. They deserve better treatment than they have had at the hands of this Government.
“Taking strike action is never easy but our members are sending a clear message to the Government that they have had enough. Low paid women make up the backbone of most local councils and they deserve to be paid a decent wage.
“The employers must get back into talks immediately to avoid a damaging dispute.”
@Bournemouthecho SOLIDARITY to the workers striking today #J10 #J10strike— @StewyART 10 July 2014
@BournemouthEcho My kids school is partially closed & I'd like to express solidarity to all public sector workers striking today.— @AFCB_B5 10 July 2014
@Bournemouthecho I support them. They are workers and workers are Not to blame.Hedge funds, big business and bankers are to blame.Solidarity— @andreidudau 10 July 2014
Have you had to make special arrangements today as your child's school is closed or partially open?
Demand for last-minute child care has more than doubled due to the teachers’ strike, it has been claimed.
Provider Emergency Childcare said it has seen a huge rise in inquiries and bookings.
Operations manager Andy Major said: “Working parents have been severely affected by the strike and while some employers will allow their staff time off, many employees simply need to be at work so they have no other option but to call us.”
Poole Museum (10-5) and History Centre (10-3) will be open as normal today. @BoroughofPoole— @PooleMuseum 10 July 2014
Dorset Councils have posted the following information for residents on rubbish collections on their website:
Rubbish and recycling collections in Dorset will continue as usual, where possible. If Thursday is your collection day, please put your containers out for collection as normal. Efforts will be made to keep collections running, though if we do not collect your rubbish by the end of the day please leave it out until the end of Saturday 12 July, when we will carry out catch-up collections.
If you do not want to wait for a collection, you can take your waste to your local household recycling centre.
We've had this comment sent through from a reader who wishes to remain anonymous:
Who will fight our corner. Council workers will go in strike to try and get a pay increase. I work for a sub contractor to the council working alongside council employees that are already earn more than me.
I get paid minimum wage and work in poor conditions. I don't even get sick pay. Some of my colleagues are working 7 days a week to earn enough to meet their basic needs. How do we get a pay increase without the support of the major unions without loosing our jobs.
We clean the streets rather than be unemployed but are forgotten and no one us fighting our corner. The council are aware if our conditions but continue to sub contract to the lowest bid without looking into the employers practice and treatment if workers. It's got to stop.
And here's a list of the schools that are partially open:
- Linwood School
- Christchurch Infant School
- Burton Primary School
- Bearwood Primary and Nursery
- Longfleet CE VC Primary School
- Longspee Special School
- Hamworthy Park Junior School
- St Joseph’s RC VA Primary
- Branksome Heath Junior
- Turlin Moor Community School
- Corfe Hills School, opens at 11am
- Wimborne First School, only reception and year one classes closed
- Queen Elizabeth School, year 9 and 10 not open but teaching for year 12 is going ahead
- The Purbeck School, closed to Year 9 students but open to all other students
A number of schools are closed or partially closed across Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch today. Here's a list of closed schools:
- Bourne Academy
- Elm Academy
- Heathlands Primary School
- Hill View Primary School
- Kings Park Primary
- Kingsleigh Primary School
- Malmesbury Park Primary School
- St Clement’s and St John’s
- St Luke’s Primary
- St Michael’s Primary
- Pokesdown Community Primary
- Winton Primary School
- Christchurch Junior School
- Mudeford Junior School.
- Ad Astra Infant School
- Montacute Special School
- Oakdale Junior School
- Winchelsea School
Good morning. More than a million public sector workers across the UK are taking part in a one-day walkout today.
Throughout the day we'll be giving you coverage of what's happening both locally and nationally.