Strike threatens schools, airport and other services

PUBLISHED: 10:00 24 June 2011

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SCHOOLS, police, courts and Bristol Airport could all face major disruption next week as the ‘biggest strike in a generation’ gets underway across North Somerset.

Services across the area could grind to a halt as thousands of teachers and public sector workers join forces as part of a mass walk-out on June 30.

Picket lines will be set up at schools in protest against Government pension cuts.

For the first time in living memory, members of three main teaching unions will join forces with public sector workers to stage the massive strike.

Thousands of Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) members, including dozens of those in air traffic control and immigration at Bristol Airport, at the job centre in Weston and North Somerset Courthouse in St Georges, will join the industrial action across the district.

The PCS also has coastguard members who are responsible for Weston and police community support officers on its register, who will walk out of their jobs for the day.

Teachers at primary, secondary and special schools across North Somerset, as well as about 100 members of staff at Weston College’s campuses are due to strike, as well as a list of union members at Bridgwater College.

Along with members of PCS, those of the University and College Union, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers are among those taking part.

A picket line will be set up at Worle Community School, off Redwing Drive, on June 30.

Staff at Priory Community School in Worle, along with those at Churchill Community School, were due to decide whether demonstrations will be held at their sites as the Mercury went to press yesterday (Wed).

A spokesman for the PCS said the unions apologise for any disruption members of the public may experience, but that they want the Government to take notice of what they are telling it.

NUT South West representative, Jon Reddiford, said: “This strike will go ahead and we want to have maximum impact.

“We want the Government to sit up and listen to what we are saying.

“This strike will involve a majority of teachers in most schools for the whole day.

“It is not something we would do at any opportunity, but we are extremely unhappy at what’s being proposed.

“I can’t remember teachers ever joining up with public sector workers in a walk-out and this is the biggest strike in a generation.”

Ministers said pension changes were needed in some sectors as people are living longer and the Department for Education has written to union leaders setting out plans to recoup £2.8billion from the Teachers Pensions Scheme.

Teachers and public sector workers are concerned they may also be forced to work until the age of 68.

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