Thousands set to man picket lines

strikeram'   UNISON members marking the strike ballot  with a demonstration outside Sheffield Town Hall ' See Story Martin Slack Picture by Chris Lawton'Nov 03  2011
strikeram' UNISON members marking the strike ballot with a demonstration outside Sheffield Town Hall ' See Story Martin Slack Picture by Chris Lawton'Nov 03 2011
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Tens of thousands of workers are expected to join a rally in Sheffield city centre when strike action by public sector workers closes schools, disrupts hospitals and hits services.

The National Day of Action on Wednesday has been organised in protest at Government changes to public sector pensions.

The main local event on November 30 will be a rally outside Sheffield City Hall from noon, organised by Sheffield Trades’ Council.

The walkout will hit schools, hospitals, council services, Job Centre Plus branches and the city’s UK Border Agency office.

Sheffield-based Government offices such as the Home Office, Department for Work and Pensions and Department for Education will also be affected.

Refuse services will be hit in Barnsley and Rotherham, where they are still council-run, although Sheffield’s rubbish collections will not be affected because they are subcontracted to Veolia.

Ten main trade unions are participating in the Sheffield demonstration – education unions the ATL, UCU, NUT and NASUWT, the National Association of Probation Officers, PCS civil service union, construction workers’ organisation UCATT, plus the three big public sector unions Unite, Unison and the GMB. Smaller unions participating are the Prison Officers’ Association, Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, Society of Radiographers, civil service managers’ unions FDA and Prospect, the Association of Educational Psychologists, National Association of Headteachers, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and social care union Aspect.

Ben Morris, vice president of Sheffield Trades Council, said: “We are expecting tens of thousands of people at the demonstration in Sheffield and there will be numerous side events too, including rallies at the Hallamshire and Northern General hospitals and a march from Sheffield University.

“The only unions not participating are the Fire Brigades Union, who may join future action and the Police Federation because they are not allowed. We feel that by defending our pensions, we are giving something for the private sector to aim towards in terms of those workers fighting to protect their pensions, too.”

Around half of Sheffield Council’s 12,000 staff are union members and will be joining the walkout.

Council chief executive John Mothersole said: “It is unlikely we will be able to offer business as usual. We have well-rehearsed contingency plans in place.”

Hospitals are limiting cover to emergencies and urgent care, as doctors, nurses, domestic workers and admin staff strike.

North East Derbyshire Council said its offices, leisure centres, swimming pools will be closed and rubbish collections will be partially affected.