Page last updated at 15:27 GMT, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 16:27 UK

Strikes hit services countrywide

Public services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have been significantly affected by the 48-hour walk-out by council workers.

BBC correspondents across the country describe the scenes and the effects on everyday life in their region.


Picket line in Manchester
Unions say the strike has been well supported
The roll call gives a good idea of the spread of this strike.

"What do you all do?" I ask the picketers.

"Environmental health officer, social worker, dinner lady, surveyor, teaching assistant," come the replies.

They say they are angry, but it does not appear to be your run-of-the-mill, rabble-rousing, in-your-face kind of anger.

Their union placards are brandished, but it seems as much to hide their faces from the television cameras.

Dinner lady Val Cain says: "I need more money for the necessities, not glamorous holidays - food and clothes for my kids.

"Everything's gone up in price but the 2.45% they are offering me means nothing on my wages."

The impact here in the city centre is subtle. No overflowing bins, so far at least.

One resident who does not want to be named has come to pay his council tax arrears. He leaves the council offices with the cash still in his back pocket.

"No last-minute reprieve," he says with a shrug. "Just no-one here to take my money."


It is the height of the holiday season but Derry City Airport is empty. The check-in desks are closed and the runway is deserted.

The airport is owned and operated by Derry City Council and, as a result, the staff are on strike.

Some airlines have had to make the costly decision to cancel their flights.

Others are bussing their passengers to planes at Belfast International Airport, adding another hour-and-a half journey on to their trip.

Many of the customers say they support the strikers despite the inconvenience it is causing them. But a few are finding the hassle a little too much to take.

"I don't have much sympathy at the minute," says one woman as she struggles to get on to the transfer bus with her young son.

"I chose this airport because it was local and convenient - now I am having to go to Belfast."

She was at least prepared for the problems. Passengers travelling back from their holidays will unexpectedly find themselves flying into a different airport.

The unions are sensitive to the need for public support. It is one of the reasons why there are no picket lines at the airport.

However, they are determined to make their point.

The council had tried to get union leaders to agree an exemption that would allow airport staff to work during the 48-hour strike. Those negotiations were unsuccessful.


On Westminster Bridge, a carefully orchestrated photo opportunity has the head of Unison, Dave Prentis, flanked by council workers from Camden, Barnet, Lewisham and other London boroughs.

They hold cardboard pictures of food, fuel meters and petrol pumps with arrows pointing up - the direction of most household bills.

Meanwhile, Mr Prentis holds a large cut-out of a 20p piece - the hourly pay rise Unison says some of the lowest-paid workers are being offered by local governments around the country.

The gathering is good natured, but the two dozen members assembled express anger at their 2.45% pay offer.

With consumer prices rising at nearly 4%, 4.6% if you include housing costs, members say the offer amounts to a pay cut.

"Just go shopping at the weekend and then you'll see how far this pay rise will go," says one council worker from Lewisham who does not want to be named.

"We won't get paid for today - so it takes a lot for us to come out, but we deserve more."

As the press assemble to take photos, an open-top double-decker bus bearing the slogan "Striking for fair pay" circles, with local government workers filling the top deck.


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