Unions hail countywide mass strike

UNION leaders have praised last week’s mass walkout by public sector workers – and warned of more strikes.

The county faced massive disruption as hundreds of thousands of staff – many from schools, hospitals and councils across the area – stopped work and took to picket lines last Wednesday.

The one-day national protest – triggered by Government plans to overhaul public sector pensions – cost Derbyshire’s economy an estimated £6.8m.

Lisa Derbyshire, secretary for the NE Derbyshire branch of public sector union Unison, said: “It went really well and we had a lot of support.”

Mrs Derbyshire – who picketed outside NE Derbyshire District Council from about 6am – was one of scores of protesters who took to the streets of Chesterfield town centre in a rally organised by Chesterfield and District TUC.

Many public sector workers fear they will end up paying more into their pensions and retiring later if the Government’s plans go ahead.

But ministers say everyone will have to pay more contributions and work longer because the country is in more debt and society is getting older.

The Government is holding talks with unions in the wake of the walkout – but Mrs Derbyshire said there may be further strikes if ministers fail to deliver a deal.

She said: “If the Government doesn’t listen to us, we’ll look at taking further and possibly longer action.”

On the Derbyshire Times’ Facebook, parents spoke out after they were forced to stay at home and look after their children or make alternative childcare arrangements because of school closures.

l What do you think about the plans for more strikes? Email comment@derbyshiretimes.co.uk.