Arun claims strikes won’t affect services

WIDESPREAD school and service closures could still go ahead in the Littlehampton area next week if public sector workers support strike action over proposed pension changes.

Sunday, 27th November 2011, 6:00 am

As the Gazette went to press, the extent of Wednesday’s walk-out remained unclear, with many schools and council services yet to confirm if they would be affected by the strike.

However, Arun District Council said that all services at the authority would remain unaffected by the looming strike action.

Arun chief executive Nigel Lynn said: “We will not know the full extent of how many staff will be striking until the day itself. However, all Arun managers have been working for some time to ensure that the effect on their own services and the impact on our residents, especially the most vulnerable, is kept to a minimum.”

Council leader Gillian Brown added: “Industrial action is always regrettable and disappointing but we have contingency plans in place for such outcomes.”

Arun Unison will be holding a picket line outside the Civic Centre, in Maltravers Road, from 7am.

Brian Walter, Arun Unison branch secretary, said: “There has been no further clarification from the government, nor has there been a formal offer, so the strike will go ahead. “Indications are that many Unison members at the council will be taking strike action on the day. There will be pickets in place at the Civic Centre. We will be handing out leaflets to members of the public explaining that the strike is part of a campaign to ensure pensions justice for all – not just those in the public services.”

Other unions including Unite and the NUT are among those preparing for potential strike action.

A council spokeswoman said that all Arun offices would remain open on Wednesday with services unaffected, including refuse and recycling facilities.

There would also be access to council tax and housing benefits, as well as environmental health services, homelessness or eviction emergencies during the day.

A spokeswoman for West Sussex Fire and Rescue said members of the Fire Brigades Union in Arun would not be striking.

West Sussex County Council, which is responsible for schools, advised parents to keep checking its website for the latest information, as details of any closures would be displayed there.

The pensions row has been rumbling on for months, following a report by the former Labour cabinet minister Lord Hutton. Ministers say public sector pensions will become unaffordable for the taxpayer without reform, as people are living longer.

For information on strike action visit: www.arun.gov.uk and www.westsussex.gov.uk