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Council staff strike labelled reckless

Dudley | News | Published:

A strike by thousands of council workers and school staff has been criticised by council chiefs and MPs, who have branded it 'inconvenient' and reckless'.

Schools could close and some council services grind to a halt during the planned walkout on July 10.

It comes after Unison voted in favour of the strike action in a row over pay.

The walkout will coincide with planned action by the National Union of Teachers.

But the move has already sparked criticism, with leader of Walsall Council Mike Bird saying those who do strike will have their pay docked.

"Should the strike take place then we will be explaining to our residents this was a decision taken by Unison and not by the council," he said.

"It seems while cuts are being made the unions are seeking a pay rise. Well if people do decide to walk out they will be docked pay and it will be a saving to the council.

"At the end of the day it's members of the public who are being inconvenienced.

"We will be doing our upmost to ensure that residents will inconvenienced as little as possible and that any impact will be kept to a minimum."

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Union leaders were today urged to come back around the negotiating table by South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson.

He said: "It is always a tragedy when anyone has to go on strike and we do respect people's right to strike, however you do find that union leaders are quick to march out on strike and not think of the consequences that it has to their members.

"I would encourage them to get back around the negotiating table and think about the affect this is going to have on teachers, children and parents as well as residents across Staffordshire."

Dudley Council leader David Sparks said the authority was considering the implications of the Unison vote.

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But Unison bosses insist the action is necessary following a proposed one per cent pay rise by the Government.

Tony Rabaiotti, Unison spokesman in the West Midlands, said: ""We have a clear majority for strike action so a one day strike will go ahead on July 10.

"Many of our members are low paid women earning barely above the minimum wage, who care for our children, our elderly and our vulnerable and they deserve better treatment than they have had at the hands of this Government. "

Adrian Turner, representative for Unison in Wolverhampton, warned all public services would be affected apart from bin collections, which are outsourced to private contractor Amey, and housing services offered by Wolverhampton Homes.

"We have not rushed into this. It is a last resort," he said.

"And we are still hopeful that nationally we can get employers back around the table.

"We have faced massive job losses and our members have endured three years of pay freezes so a one per cent rise is not acceptable."

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