July 23 2014 Latest news:
Alisha Rouse and Jon Dean
Thursday, July 10, 2014
More than 60 per cent of schools have ground to a halt today and bins were left unemptied as hundreds of public sector workers walked out across Islington.
Thirty five of the borough’s schools have been shut completely, leaving 16 offering limited classes and only eight schools fully open.
Meanwhile bin collections, street cleaning and home repairs have stopped due to the nationwide industrial actions against pensions pay and conditions.
Dozens of strikers gathered for a rally outside Islington Town Hall, in Upper Street, this morning, as passing cars and vans beeped their horns in support – though the event had to be cut short due to a wedding taking place at the same venue.
Fiona Monkman, manager of union Unison’s Islington branch, addressed the crowd.
She said: “It’s not just about pay, it’s about having the terms of our contracts attacked as well as our job security. They are hiring people on zero hours contracts.
“These strikes are a fight back.”
She added: “We didn’t go into public service for massive wages but we do expect dignity and respect and that is why we need to tell the government to stop these wage cuts.”
Paul Atkin, from Islington National Union of Teachers (NUT), said: “Like all public sector workers we have faced a 15 to 20 per cent cut in pay.
“Our younger teachers are facing the prospect of working until they are 68, which doesn’t work. People burn out in their 50s.
“What the Government is clearly hoping for is people leave and they can get rid of them early.”
Rosemary Plummer, from Islington Unison, said: “Most of the schools are closed today and around 400 support staff, who we represent, have walked out.
“Their rate of pay has been attacked to such and extent it’s ridiculous and they can’t take it anymore. They are desperate.
“Councils across the country have £19billion in their reserves. They can afford it, they just don’t want to spend it.
Islington Council added £6million to their reserves pot in this year.
Prime Minister David Cameron has strongly condemned the strikes, and wrote on Twitter yesterday saying: “Tomorrow’s public sector strikes are wrong. Labour should be clear and condemn them: no ifs, no buts.”