DORSET is set to be crippled by a huge public sector strike which will see thousands of workers stage a walkout.
Teachers, council staff, and civil servants in Dorset will be among more than a million nationally joining the strike next Thursday, July 10, which is being supported by a range of unions in protest against attacks on pay, pensions and workloads.
At least two local schools will be closed. There is likely to be disruption at County Hall and other local authorities but councils are unable to say what other services would be affected.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union in Dorset are supporting the action as part of a long-running dispute over pensions. Dorset Fire and Rescue Service, which will be providing a reduced emergency response, is urging people to take care.
Members of unions locally, including GMB, National Union of Teachers (NUT), Public and Commercial Services (PCS), UNISON and Unite will join the strike which will see rallies organised and picket lines drawn up.
Public sector workers in Weymouth, Portland and Dorchester, including those in schools, councils and other public offices will take part in the one-day walkout.
Union bosses say the NUT dispute is about pay, pensions and workloads, while members of the other unions are taking action over pay. They added that public sector workers have not had a pay rise in three years and the government’s offer of a one per cent increase this year represents a cut in real terms due to inflation – the offer was rejected.
Strike action was a last resort, union bosses said, adding that they regretted any disruption to local services but felt they had no option.
The majority of Weymouth Land Registry workers will be walking out as they are members of the PCS union.
Branch chairman Andy Woodgate said while protests have been made in the past about the privatisation threat to the Land Registry, this dispute was about pay.
Dorset divisional secretary of the NUT, Geoff Cooke said: “Members of the NUT in Dorset are taking strike action for the third time this school year. This is unprecedented and reflects teachers’ anger over the refusal of the Secretary of State Michael Gove to have proper discussions about his divisive reforms. “This time we are joined by employees who work as support staff in schools. Hundreds of teachers are expected to be involved, affecting scores of schools locally.
“The general issues for schools and education are of concern to all teachers and parents.”
Mr Cooke said that areas of concern for members included increasing class sizes, redundancies, competition for school places and the move to ditch technical and creative subjects.
Former Unison representative and borough councillor Paul Kimber said: “The vote for strike action has been pretty overwhelming.
“As far as I know all councils in Dorset will be taking industrial action.”
DORSET Fire and Rescue Service is asking for residents to help protect themselves from the risks of fire during FBU strike action which is from 10am to 7pm on Thursday, July 10.
Chief fire officer Darran Gunter said: “While the industrial action is ongoing we will still be responding to 999 calls. Our priority will be to respond to those calls where lives may be at risk or someone needs to be rescued. If we respond to non-emergency calls then those most in need, could be at risk, so please only ring 999 if a fire engine is really needed.”
He added: “We are urging members of the public to take extra care to reduce the risk of a fire breaking out in their home or on our heathland. Fires can start for a variety of reasons, from cooking being left unattended, to electrical faults. The best advice we can give is for everyone to ensure they have a smoke alarm in their home and to check the battery is working at least once a week.”
OPEN: Wey Valley – unsure how many staff members will be striking, school will be open.
Conifers Primary school – will be open for the majority.
Wyke Regis Junior School;
All Saints School;
St Mary's Middle School, Puddletown;
St John’s Primary School;
St Augustine’s Catholic Primary, Puddletown First School;
Radipole Primary School;
Buckland Newton Primary School;
St Nicholas and St Laurence;
Thorners Primary School;
Greenford C of E Primary School;
Kingston Maurward College;
Salway Ash Primary School;
CLOSED: Bridport Primary School;
Southill Primary School.
Thomas Hardye School will be closed to students in Year 9 and 10 but OPEN to the Sixth Form
NO DECISION YET: Dorchester Middle School;
Damers First School;
Westfield Arts College;
St George’s Primary School, Portland;
Holy Trinity Primary School.