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Schools set to shut across Sussex during strike
A STRIKE by teachers and council workers will grind the majority of public services to a halt, unions warn.
Teachers’ unions are warning parents to expect even more school closures on Thursday, July 10 than during the previous industrial action earlier this year as support staff are joining teachers on strike this time.
As well as the National Union of Teachers, Unison has also announced their members will be striking with GMB and Unite members also expected to join the strike once their ballots are counted later this week.
Senior union leaders are warning that the July 10 action could even surpass the General Strike of 1926 when 1.7 million workers downed tools.
Longer strikes in the autumn are also being threatened if the summer action does not reap results.
Unison said its members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will walk out for 24 hours, with other unions set to announce a similar move in the coming week.
The union said that local government workers have been "condemned" to three consecutive years of pay freezes, followed by below-inflation rises in 2013 and 2014.
The Public and Commercial Services Union is also balloting its members over cuts in the civil service while thousands of midwives and maternity support staff are currently being consulted on whether they want a formal ballot for action.
Phil Clarke, East Sussex representative of the NUT, said the strike was likely to surpass the strike on March 26 this year, which affected tens of thousands of pupils across the county.
He said: “In terms of the NUT it will be the same broadly speaking as the last strike but with Unison and GMB also likely to be out, it will probably result in a higher level of school closures because of the support staff as well.
“Last time in Brighton and Hove schools were shut across the board last time anyway but in East Sussex it was not quite as high but there was still a very significant level of closures.
“We are still expected to work until 68 with an ever increasing workload.
“The pay situation is even worse for teachers than support staff because schools don’t even have to pass on the 1% pay rise to teachers, it’s at their discretion.
“With inflation, teachers have been suffering pay cuts for years.
“A key section of the public sector will not be operating on July 10, in fact the majority of the public sector will not be working.”
Unison strikers are likely to include teaching support staff, social workers, home carers and enforcement officers.
Alex Knutsen, Brighton branch secretary for Unison, said that workers were protesting over worsening conditions since the coalition government came into power.
He warned that without a response to next month’s strike, workers could take lengthier action in the autumn for a number of days.
He added: “This will be the biggest public sector strike in 30 years.
“Brighton and Hove workers were very strongly in favour of taking industrial action.
“We had 10,000 people marching through the city during the pension dispute three years ago and I would expect similar if not more this time around.”
A Brighton and Hove City Council spokesman said: “We are working hard to identify the extent of potential disruption to services.
“Parents should stay in contact with individual schools on how each one might be affected. “There will be more detailed information on the council’s website nearer the time.”
A Local Government Association spokesman said: "It is disappointing that Unison will be proceeding with strike action.
“Local government staff have worked wonders while councils have been tackling the biggest funding cuts in living memory and we have no doubt that many will still be at work on the day of strike action.”
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