Strikes lead to minimal disruption

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Public sector workers went on strike yesterday against proposed changes to their pensions.

About 400,000 people across the country took industrial action against the Government’s plans to make them pay more and work longer for smaller pensions.

But the effects in the north of the county were minimal, with services including colleges, hospitals and job centres continuing as normal.

Members of the Public Commercial Services Union (PCS), healthcare union Unite and lecturers from the University and College Union (UCU) took part in the strike.

A small number of staff members from Tresham College’s campuses in Kettering, Corby and Wellingborough took part in the action but all classes were covered to ensure students did not miss out at a crucial time in their education.

Principal Stuart Wesselby said: “All classes ran as normal today despite the strike action and all facilities were open as usual to ensure that none of our learners were affected.”

The strikes follow similar action nationally in November, with unions rejecting the Government’s squeeze on pensions by raising the retirement age, increasing employees’ pension contributions and cutbacks as final salary schemes are replaced by career average schemes.

PCS union members include job centre workers but, despite staff joining in with the strikes, centres in the north of the county appeared to be open for business.

Kettering General Hospital was also unaffected by strike action.

A spokesman for the hospital said: “We are not aware of any strike action by Unite at KGH and there was no disruption to services.”

However, about 100 county police officers joined 20,000 of their national colleagues for a separate demonstration in Westminster.

Police officers are banned from taking industrial action, so the protesters had to give up a day off.

Organiser the Police Federation said its members were protesting against a reduction in the number of officers, a lack of consultation over plans for reform, and pay and pensions.

Train drivers’ union Aslef also completed a fourth day of strike action yesterday.

East Midlands Trains was forced to run more services to ensure passengers were not affected by the strike.

Drivers are not happy with the company’s plans for changes to their pensions.