Strike dubbed irresponsible

Members of UCU striking at Blackpool and the Fylde College Bispham campus

Members of UCU striking at Blackpool and the Fylde College Bispham campus

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PUBLIC sector workers planning to strike in tomorrow’s day of action have been branded “irresponsible and reckless” as services across the coast are set to grind to a halt.

Union hardliners have also been criticised as “itching for a fight” by education secretary Michael Gove who has appealed for striking teachers to think again.

More schools will be affected tomorrow as public sector workers protest against demands for increased pension contributions and a higher retirement age.

As The Gazette went to print, teachers from 59 Fylde coast schools, including Cardinal Allen Catholic High School, Freckleton Strike Lane primary and Bispham High School had pledged to join the strike meaning thousands of parents will have to find alternative child care.

A mass rally is set to take place in St John’s Square, Blackpool, tomorrow as Blackpool’s Trades Union Congress make their voices heard.

And council staff joining the strike could also see JobCentres and other contact centres close their doors.

Blackpool Council has reassured residents bin collections should not be affected.

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The strike has been slammed by Hugh Evans, deputy chief executive of the Blackpool-based North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce.

He said: “Strike action in the current economic climate is irresponsible and reckless.

“Trade unions are living in a bubble and ignoring the fact Britain has to make its way in a competitive world.”

“It’s true that austerity measures are affecting peoples’ lives across Britain, public and private-sector alike.

“But these measures are essential to maintaining our fiscal credibility and helping to stabilise the economy.”

Nationwide, around 90 per cent of England’s schools are expected to close and two million public sector staff are set to boycott work.

Mr Gove says it is “unfair and unrealistic” to expect taxpayers to foot the increasing public sector pensions bill.

But the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) say the public support the strike and feel the Government is “mishandling the economy.”

Duncan Griffiths, secretary of the Fylde Central Benefits and Services Branch, said: “The Government has declined to give PCS any proper assurances on our jobs, our pay and our pensions.

“We believe our campaign to defend jobs on the Fylde, not to cut them, to have fairness in our pay and conditions, not cuts to our standards of living, is just and fair.”

Branch chairman Martin Jones added: “We are not the speculators who created the financial mess and resultant recession.

“We should not be expected to pay.”