Schools out as public sector workers strike

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MORE than 50 city schools closed for the day yesterday as teachers took part in a national strike to fight for better pay and pensions.

They were joined by other workers from Milton Keynes Council and the hospital.

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Some strikers chose to stay at home but around 150 joined a demonstration outside the council’s city centre offices.

Here the atmosphere was almost party-like, with protesters blowing whistles and sounding horns.

The council’s Unison branch chairman Frank Reedy said: “We’re pleased with the turnout. The public are being sympathetic, particularly when we explain about how the public sector is being made to pay for the banking crisis.”

Unison say the average pension for a woman working for the council is £2,800 a year, while her NHS counterpart would receive £3,500.

The council had made contingency plans to ensure all its services continued despite the lack of workers.

The only exception was the crematorium which avoided making bookings and closed for the day.

A spokesman said: “It’s been very much business as normal and the effect of the industrial action on council services was minimal.”

And hospital chief operating officer, Jon Scott, said: “We had plans in place for the strike, including scaling back some non-emergency services for the day, and these plans have held up well. As a result, our urgent services are running as normal.”

Perhaps the worst affected were working parents who had to find extra child-care for the day. On said: “I have some sympathy with the teachers but I wish they’d found some other way to get their point across.”

But city mum Jessica Barnard was firmly behind the action – so much so that she packed lunchboxes for her three young children and joined the civic offices demonstration for the day.

She said: “My children’s school, Bradwell Lower, is one of the few that is actually open today. But I took them out anyway to show my support for the public sector workers.”