Services provided by local councils and schools are expected to be affected during a national day of strike action by all of the major public sector trade unions.
Teachers, caretakers and kitchen staff will stand alongside health workers, street cleaners and civil servants during the huge one-day stoppage tomorrow by members of Unison, Unite the Union, the GMB, PCS and the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) over pay and working conditions.
Around 300 members of the Ryedale branch of Unison – half of which works for Ryedale District Council – have been asked to support the strike and picket their workplaces.
Paul Hunt, Branch Secretary of Ryedale Unison, said: “The reason why the branch is supporting what will be the first national strike action taken by council workers over pay for six years is that the value of local government wages has plummeted by 20 per cent in the last five years as a result of below inflation settlements and a pay freeze.
“Government Minister Matthew Hancock indicated just a few days ago that the policy of driving down pay will continue with the intention being that public sector pay awards will not exceed the rate of inflation until at least 2018. Nearly half a million of the employees covered by this dispute are paid less than the living wage.
“The purpose of Thursday’s strike is to show that this is not acceptable and to bring about the end of a policy that has cut the living standards of millions of employed people and caused great hardship to many. The employers have refused to negotiate or enter into independent arbitration talks so strike action really is the only avenue open to us.”
It has been confirmed that Lady Lumley’s School will be forced to close because of the dispute, while Malton School will only be open for Year Seven pupils. Parents of infant and primary school children are advised to contact their children’s school directly or to visit the North Yorkshire County Council website to find out about any closures.
And although it will not be known until the day what level the strike action will take locally, council chiefs are expecting a reduction in services provided – or a delay in response. County services that could be affected include libraries, registration offices, household waste recycling centres and some adult and children’s services.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused to Ryedale residents,“ said Janet Waggott, chief executive of Ryedale District Council. “Any changes to service caused by the industrial action will be detailed on our website.”
Fire service cover in Ryedale is not expected to be affected as fire chiefs say they can rely on retained firefighters to cover any incidents.