[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 March 2006, 10:53 GMT 11:53 UK
Council workers in 24-hour strike
Picket line at Bilston Street Police Station, Wolverhampton
Police workers in Wolverhampton joined the strike
Council services across the Midlands were disrupted as workers went on strike in a dispute over pensions.

Some schools did not open on Tuesday, refuse was not collected and home care, social services and transport services were hit in the nationwide strike.

Local authorities in Warwickshire, Birmingham, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Hereford and Worcester and the Black Country hope disruption will be slight.

Nearly 1.5m council workers were expected to take industrial action.

The 24-hour strike was thought to be the biggest walk-out since the 1926 general strike.

Peaceful picketing

A spokesman for Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council said essential services for vulnerable sections of the community would remain unaffected by the industrial action.

About 33 schools closed for some or all of the day.

Warwickshire County Council said "no more than about ten per cent" of its staff supported the strike, but levels varied across service areas and across the county.

It was able to maintain home help services, and open all homes for elderly people and most libraries and reception points.

Reuben Bergman, deputy head of human resources said: "Some schools in the county have been affected by support staff joining the strike, particularly special schools and schools in the Nuneaton area.

"Some day centres have also unfortunately had to close, but again, service users and their carers had already been notified.

"It should also be said that we are appreciative of the recognised trades unions for their sensible approach to the day. Picketing arrangements have so far passed off peacefully and without incident.

"We clearly regret any disruption to services but have tried hard to minimise this and keep clients and service users informed. All services will be running as from tomorrow."

Schools shut

In Shropshire, refuse collections did not take place in many areas. But North Shropshire District Council said it hoped to keep swimming pools in Market Drayton and Whitchurch open.

South Shropshire District Council said it was not anticipating any major disruption.

Telford & Wrekin Council said most of its services were up and running on Tuesday but two special schools and all libraries, except Oakengates, were closed.

Dozens of schools were closed with 40 in Warwickshire, 20 in Worcestershire and 11 in Herefordshire.

In Birmingham, more than 100 people gathered outside the central library on Tuesday afternoon.

The city council said the strike led to the partial or total closure of 150 primary and secondary schools, plus 26 community libraries, three leisure centres and 21 neighbourhood offices.

Union members are protesting at government plans to change rules that allow members to retire at the age of 60 with an unreduced pension if their age and service in the scheme add up to 85 years of age.

David Prentis, Unison general secretary, said the changes to pensions discriminate against women in lower paid jobs. It is thought 75% of the people within the scheme are women.


SEE ALSO:
Disruption expected from strike
27 Mar 06 |  Derbyshire


RELATED BBC LINKS:

RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific