WIGAN was today getting back to work after the biggest strike for a generation halted public services across the town.
Bins went uncollected, lessons were abandoned, minor operations at Wigan Infirmary cancelled and court summonses delayed as more than 5,000 public servants from probation officers to paramedics walked out in protest at cuts to their pensions.
Thousands of Wigan’s schoolchildren enjoyed the day off with 109 of the borough’s 131 schools closed. But teacher unions insisted that most of those categorised as not having closed were in fact operating on a skeleton staff while some listed as open weren’t actually admitting any pupils.
There were approaching a dozen picket lines across the Metro by 20 unions at locations ranging from council depots and colleges to Job Centres and Wigan Magistrates’ Court.
Strikers then gathered at Whelley Labour Club for a march to Market Place for a lunchtime rally where public sector union shop stewards denounced the Government for attempting to make some of Britain’s lowest paid workers, the majority of them women, “scapegoats” for the banking collapse.
Wigan Trades Council Secretary Terry Abbott claimed the turn out was “magnificent.” He said: “There are many ordinary men and women in Wigan who are outraged at being made to pay for an economic crisis they did not create.”
But chairman of Wigan Conservative Federation Michael Winstanley said public sector union leaders had been “itching for a fight.
He said they had no mandate for action with 70 per cent of their membership not supporting a strike. He said: “I think that it is time for the Government to bring in legislation to mandate a turnout in ballots for industrial action of at least half and three quarters voting in favour.”
More on the strike in today’s (Thursday) Wigan Evening Post ...
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