Strike action hits services across the Dearne

Strikers take a stand outside Mexborough Job Centre.
Strikers take a stand outside Mexborough Job Centre.

SERVICES at schools and hospitals are among those to see mass disruption as public sector unions stage a day of strikes today.

The national day of action has seen thousands of workers from up to 20 different unions in South Yorkshire, walk out over a dispute about pensions.

Mexborough Montagu Hospital is operating a bank holiday-style service with most outpatient and non-urgent admissions cancelled, while accident and emergency departments, urgent surgery and cancer treatment units remain open across the region.

The majority of schools throughout the Dearne, Doncaster, Barnsley and Rotherham areas are closed, along with libraries and community centres as Council employees temporarily quit their posts.

Other services too are affected with emergency numbers and instructions posted up on Council websites.

Workers were drafted in to job centres as members of the Public and Commercial Services Union joined in the day of action.

Pete Murray, local branch chairman of the PCS, based at the Dearne Valley Debt Centre said: “Our pension scheme was recognised four years ago and it was sustainable then. The real reason behind the planned Government changes is to pay off a deficit we are not responsible for. It is effectively a pay cut”.

A spokesman for the Rotherham branch of the NUT said: “At the last pensions negotiations, unions agreed to renegotiate if a valuation proved the scheme to need more money. Unions stand by that commitment, but the government refuses to value the scheme. That is because the scheme is predicted to reduce in costs gradually over the next 25 years”.

The Government maintains that public sector pensions are unsustainable, and some private sector workers have condemned the industrial action, saying they too have taken a hit on their pensions.