Strike action ballot for councils’ staff

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WORKERS responsible for caring for the elderly, keeping children safe and cleaning the streets are being urged to say “yes” to strike action.

Staff at South Holland District Council and Lincolnshire County Council who are members of public sector union Unison saw ballot papers start to drop through their letterboxes this week asking them to vote on action over planned changes to pensions.

They will be among 1.1 million Unison members to take part in the biggest industrial action ballot in UK history.

If members vote for action, a one day strike is planned for November 30.

Strike action is seen as the last resort for council workers, following months of talks in which Government ministers have refused to move on from what is seen as their hard-line stance to make public sector staff work longer, pay more and get less when they retire.

Unison says the plans are not about pensions, but about reducing the country’s deficit, claiming that reforms made four years ago brought in changes to make the local government pension scheme affordable and sustainable.

It is claimed that every penny of the planned pension contribution rise will go towards paying down the deficit.

Lynda Pearson, Unison branch secretary of South Holland local government, said: “We are urging all our members to vote ‘yes’ in the ballot for industrial action.

“Local and district council workers do their jobs so they can care for the public. Cleaning streets, caring for elderly and vulnerable people, and keeping children safe.

“They know what these services mean to their local community – they do not take the decision to strike lightly.

“But they have been left with little choice. The pensions plans are just another way of making public sector workers pay for the recession.”

Earlier this year, the National Union of Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers carried out a day of action in protest over the planned changes to pensions, resulting in the closure of some schools and classes being disrupted in others.