Unions get their point across

Unison strike at St helens College with Pat Robinson and Heather Belland the Vuvuzelas
Unison strike at St helens College with Pat Robinson and Heather Belland the Vuvuzelas
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THOUSANDS of public sector workers across St Helens joined a national 24-hour strike last Wednesday (November 30) - bringing many local public services to a standstill.

Planned surgical procedures and out-patient services at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust were disrupted due to the industrial action.

Early estimates suggested that around 20 per cent of NHS North West staff - including those affected due to school closures - were absent from work.

The vast majority of schools and colleges were closed, bins went uncollected and libraries and leisure centres were shut as public sector workers staged a mass walkout in a row over the Government’s proposed changes to their pensions.

Other workers involved included personal care assistants, teaching assistants, environmental health officers and grounds maintenance staff.

Steve Fay, secretary of the local Unison branch, estimated that around 6,000 council workers sacrificed a day’s pay to fight for fairer pensions.

He said: “It was really well supported. I did the rounds visiting picket lines on the day and it was probably the best supported strike we’ve ever had. St Helens was a bit of a ghost town on Wednesday morning.

“Clearly, a lot of services were affected on the day. That’s not something our members are particularly proud of, but we felt it was the only way to get our message across.

“Our membership has actually increased considerably as a result of the action and 99.9 per cent of the public we encountered on the day were supportive of us - particularly pensioners.”