Sheffield triple strike misery

Some of the firefighters who have walked out on strike at the fire station in Eyre Street, Sheffield.
Some of the firefighters who have walked out on strike at the fire station in Eyre Street, Sheffield.

Sheffield’s biggest strike in years is set to plunge the city into chaos as thousands walk out.

Tomorrow’s joint union action will see 50 schools close, a ‘severely depleted’ fire-fighting service and council services facing disruption.

Staff – striking over a combination of pay issues, workload, pension changes and Government austerity – are set to march in their thousands through the city centre before a mass rally.

Charlie Carruth, Unison regional organiser, said: “People have had enough.”

Mr Carruth said workers were being offered a pay increase of one per cent after four years of wage freezes.

Around 5,000 Unison school and council staff would walk out as part of the national day of action, he estimated.

He added: “The miners’ strike was a big issue and in terms of numbers this isn’t the same but I certainly think it is the biggest strike since then.”

The Sheffield branch of the National Union of Teachers said 2,000 members were expected to strike over performance related pay, workloads and pensions.

Divisional secretary Toby Mallinson said: “We regret disruption caused but its caused by the cuts being imposed.

“We’ve got thousands of teachers leaving the profession because of working conditions.”

Peter Davies at union GMB said the greatest ‘anger’ was from school staff – many of who have had their contracts or pay cut – and those working in the care sector.

Hundreds of local school jobs had been lost, he added.

Other unions backing the strike include Unite and the Fire Brigades Union, which is taking action over changes to firefighters’ pensions.

Star readers had mixed views.

Claire Louise Harrison said: “Should we fine the school because our kids are missing a day of learning?”

Alexandra Goddard added: “Teachers only strike because they care about education and are prepared to fight for it.

“This strike reflects growing concerns across a number of public services – I doubt they will be the last.”

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue urged business owners to keep calls low, including non-emergency call outs such as automated fire alarms, by testing systems.

Chief fire officer James Courtney said: “Our emergency response service is going to be severely reduced so we’ll only be attending genuinely life threatening incidents.”

Protestors will meet in Devonshire Green at 11am and march to a rally in Barkers Pool at 12.30pm.

A council spokesman said: “We are assessing the likely impact of strike action and will be making arrangements to provide essential services where possible to minimise any potential disruption.”