Ripon braced for unions’ strike action

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Ripon is bracing itself for the closure of mainstream services as public sector unions prepare to go on strike in a dispute over pensions and pay.

Members of Unison and the NASUWT teachers’ union, as well as other public sector unions in places such as hospitals, have voted to strike over changes to their pensions with a national walk-out planned on Wednesday, November 30.

Julie Sagar, chairman of the Harrogate healthcare branch of Unison, said it expects some Ripon members to stay at home on strike day, although they could not tell exactly how many planned to take part.

Picket lines could be in place in the city, she added, as feelings are running high among the union’s members over planned cuts in their pensions.

In a written statement, the union’s Harrogate branch said: “Most public sector workers are modestly paid. Their pay has been frozen while the price of basics is shooting up.

“Now they are expected to pay an extra £3bn a year for much-worse pensions.

“It’s wrong to make public sector workers pay an unfair contribution to reducing a deficit they did nothing to cause.”

“The average NHS pension is £7,000 per annum, hardly gold-plated, and half of NHS women pensioners receive less than £3,500 per annum.”

Teachers’ union NASUWT is to strike on the same day over pay, pensions, workload, job security and conditions of service, and schools in Ripon are preparing to see teachers stay at home.

As the Gazette went to press, Outwood Academy Ripon staff said it was too early to tell what disruption the strike action could cause, with academy principal Barry Found waiting to see how many staff would stay away before making a decision on how the school would manage the day.

Across Clotherholme Road at Ripon Grammar School, headteacher Martin Pearman had not yet decided whether the school was to close.

North Yorkshire County Council has issued a statement saying it is hoping to minimise “as far as possible” the strike’s impact on essential services.

It states: “We have now received confirmation that all unions locally will be on strike, including the teaching unions.

“ This means that there are likely to be school closures across the county. We will not know until early next week the extent or location of these. Details will be on the county council website as and when information is available.

“Other than schools we are not anticipating service closures but there may be a reduction in service provision or a delay in response and we ask that the public bears with us.

“Our focus will be on maintaining essential services where individuals and the public really need our input and support.”

The council’s website can be found at www.northyorks.gov.uk