Strike action will cost Derbyshire £7 million

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THE one-day public sector strike looks set to cost Derbyshire £6.8 million, according to business leaders.

Teachers, health professionals and council workers were among those who took action yesterday (Wednesday 30) leading to a disruption of services, the closure or partial closure of over 300 schools and hospital appointments being cancelled.

Members of unions including GMB and Unison were among those taking action to protest against Government plans to change their pensions.

Pickets and marches were organised by some of the unions involved at locations across the county.

Richard Hardy from the Prospect union, whose 30,000 members undertake key roles such as health and safety inspectors, said: “Our members certainly don’t take this kind of action lightly.

“They are highly professional people, for whom the public service element of their role is hugely important. However the actions of the current government in attacking pensions has pushed them too far.”

But George Cowcher, Chief Executive of the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce said the strikes had come at the wrong time for the economic recovery.

“Businesses are doing everything they can to boost the economy by working flat out to make sales, attract orders, retain valued staff and deliver growth.

“For some workers to walk out over modest changes to a generous pension scheme while others are busting a gut to get the economy moving is a big mistake.”

He said employers had to be flexible as some staff had to take time off work due to school closures.

l The government and union leaders blame each other for the disruption.

Minister Francis Maude, said strikes action was irresponsible when discussions were ongoing: “Our offer is generous and fair to public sector workers and other taxpayers. Many low and middle income workers will actually receive a larger pension income at retirement.”

But Brian Strutton, GMB National Secretary, said for council workers there was no pension deal on the table or negotiations taking place. “That’s why we are on strike and that’s why we are calling for negotiations to take place urgently and seriously,” he said.

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