Strike looms in Falkirk

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A massive strike could close every public building and school in Falkirk district on November 30.

Thousands of local authority workers are expected to stage the industrial action over pension reform.

Falkirk Council is bracing itself for major disruption as its employees including teachers, social workers, librarians, bin men and One Stop Shop staff take part in the day of action.

The row over the controversial changes is also expected to hit job centres, benefits offices and Child Support Agency, nurses, cooks and cleaners with NHS Forth Valley, and civilians working for Central Scotland Police.

Yesterday (Wednesday) the leader of the council, Craig Martin, said he hoped the threat to frontline services could be avoided.

Councillor Martin admitted: “I accept public sector employees are unhappy about the attacks on their pensions and are feeling hurt by that.

“However, for Falkirk Council it’s important we do what we can to protect the elderly and most vulnerable in the community on November 30 and hope to have discussions with the unions as quickly as possible.

“It’s vitally important these key services are not disrupted and I hope suitable arrangements can be made.”

Gray Allan, secretary of the Falkirk Council branch of Unison, expects over 2000 council employees to back action on St Andrew’s Day.

He said: “None of us has taken this decision lightly, but the Government is facing the biggest wake-up call it has had in a generation. Our pensions aren’t a fortune but we pay into them to secure a bit of decency and security in retirement.

“In exchange for around six per cent of our wages the average pension in local government is just over £4000 a year, around £2800 for women, or £54 a week.

“If we don’t protect our pensions we’ll just be pushed into benefits when we retire.

“The Government wants to change the way pension increases are calculated, meaning that over time they will lose value, and they haven’t ruled out asking us to work longer before we can collect them.”

Alex McLuckie of GMB Scotland said: “What unites nurses and social workers, health care assistants and home carers, porters and janitors, domestics and cleaners and all the other public sector workers is their opposition to the UK Government’s ruthless attack on the pensions benefits which will result in workers having to work longer and see the value of their pension drop.”

Lynn Henderson, Scottish Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, said: “November 30 will be the biggest day of action in the UK for generations.

‘‘Workers who provide key services in every community will be standing together to say they have had enough of the vicious attacks on their pensions, pay and jobs.”