Biggest series of strikes in decades

A previous teachers' strike
A previous teachers' strike
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THOUSANDS of Wigan workers will be part of a mass walk-out next week in the most widespread day of action for decades.

Council staff – including binmen, care workers, classroom assistants and dinnerladies – teachers and hospital staff are set to strike on July 10 over pay and conditions.

Wigan Council bosses say efforts will be made to minimise disruption, but parents may have to make alternative arrangements for their children.

The Government says there is “no justification” for the NUT action.

But Wigan NUT divisional secretary Max Atkins said: “We have postponed strike action three times this academic year on the back of promises made by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary. His latest promise – to actually turn up to meetings he arranged – has once again turned out to be empty.

“It is disgraceful that the only way we get media attention for our disputes is to go on strike, but as Gove himself once said: ‘The one thing that we must do is stand up to the bullying’. This is precisely what we are doing: standing up to bully boy Gove.”

Unison and GMB members at Wigan Council voted for action last month, rejecting a pay offer worth one per cent for most staff.

A spokesman for the GMB’s public services membership in Wigan said: “Members have spoken loud and clear: they do not want another low pay offer and they are prepared to do something about it.”

The prospect of further action also looms large. Members of the Fire Brigades Union have staged strikes this year in a row over pension and retirement changes and have not ruled out more. Midwives and maternity support staff this week voted to consider striking over pay disputes.

Chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, Cathy Warwick, said: “We knew midwives were angry about the derisory offer from the Government, but this response from our members highlights just how unfairly they have been treated.”

Sonia Halliwell, assistant director of Human Resources at Wigan Council, said: “Council staff are within their rights to strike. We’d like to reassure residents across Wigan borough that we will are working to ensure services are not disrupted.

“And we will work closely with schools across the borough to keep disruption to a minimum. Schools will notify parents directly if they plan to make any closures for pupils.”