Council hit as staff go on strike
LOCAL government workers across the region joined in the biggest bout of industrial action Britain has seen since 1926 in a day of action on Tuesday. More than one million UK council workers went on strike and hundreds of schools, libraries and sports cen
LOCAL government workers across the region joined in the biggest bout of industrial action Britain has seen since 1926 in a day of action on Tuesday.
More than one million UK council workers went on strike and hundreds of schools, libraries and sports centres closed and other services such as transport and refuse collection were hit.
Staff at Cambridgeshire County Council worked hard to ensure that services were maintained but a full county council meeting at Shire Hall in Cambridge was stopped because councillors refused to cross the picket line.
Members of 12 trade unions were protesting at the Government's proposals to cut the pensions of local government workers and other employees across the public services while members of the police, armed forces, fire-fighters, teachers, civil service and NHS pension schemes will have their existing rights protected. In the past, members of the Local Government Pension Scheme who have worked for 25 years by retirement age have been able to retire at 60 without losing their pension rights. Government proposals would remove this option from September and force members to work until they are 65 or have their pension reduced.
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Janis Murfet, branch chairman of Unison East Cambridgeshire, said: "We are not asking for special treatment, we just want the same rights as every other public sector worker. People have worked hard for their pensions and don't deserve to be treated in this way. Striking is a last resort but we will do it again to protect our rights."
At East Cambridgeshire District Council, 66 members of staff went on strike which meant the housing department was closed for the day and the legal and environmental departments were on skeleton cover.
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Katie Child, from the planning department, spoke of her anger on a picket line outside the council offices in Ely: "Local government workers are easy prey and it's not on. We deserve the same equal rights as other public sector workers and we will continue to strike if we are not listened to."
The Government have also claimed that because people are living longer these changes are necessary and to meet the demands of the unions, council tax would have to go up.
Phil Lenney from the office services department at Herward Housing said from a picket line outside their office on St Mary's Street on Tuesday morning: "I have paid into my pension scheme for 30 years and now they are just going to change it. The Government are talking absolute nonsense when they say they will have to raise Council Tax. Only a very small amount, something like three per cent, goes towards the pension scheme.