Burnley braced for day of strike action

Burnley College
Burnley College

A DAY of strikes could hit Burnley tomorrow as teachers, lecturers and civil servants look set to walk out of work in a dispute over pensions.

It looks as if school will be out for many students on Thursday. Primary schools, secondary schools, colleges and Burnley’s UCLan campus could be affected in varying degrees.

And members of the Public and Commercial Services’ Union in Burnley will strike over cuts to their jobs, pensions and pay.

Across East Lancashire, the PCS union has 1,041 members, all of whom will be out on strike on Thursday.

Workers at the Pensions Centre in Simonstone, the leaflet delivery centre in Brun House, Burnley, Burnley JobCentre and the County Court in Burnley will all walk out.

Members of the University and College Union at Burnley College and UCLan will strike in a row over changes to the Teachers’ Pensions Scheme. The row centres over plans for greater pension contributions from staff in return for reduced benefits and an increase in retirement age.

Mr Martin Fisher, regional officer for the NUT, said: “The NUT has many members in Burnley. We are confident they will be taking action in protest at these unfair changes. Teachers across the profession are extremely concerned about the Government’s decisions on their pensions.

“Many teachers have paid into their pensions for many years in expectation of the benefits they were promised.

“The Government is now working to move the goalposts. It expects teachers to pay more, work longer and get less.

“They are paying more by having their own contributions increased, working longer by having retirement age increased and getting less because the Government is changing the index linked to inflation.”

It is not certain how many schools will be closed completely for the day as headteachers attempt to juggle resources. Year 11 pupils have already left school and many Year 10 schools will be out on work experience placements.

County Coun. Susie Charles, Cabinet member for Children and Schools, said: “Schools largely run themselves, so headteachers must decide how to react to the forthcoming strike, based on the particular circumstances at their individual schools. The county council will offer support, but it will be for headteachers to make their own decisions based on staffing numbers.”

Dr Graham Baldwin, UCLan’s deputy vice-chancellor (Academic) said: “The strike action by members of the UCU will affect universities across the UK including UCLan.

“On the day, the majority of academic staff and all support staff at UCLan’s campuses will be working normally, but we believe a number of academics affiliated to the UCU will be taking industrial action.

“Although the majority of students have now completed their programmes for this semester, we are determined to minimise the strike’s impact on any remaining students by communicating changes to the academic timetable in advance of the strike.

“Students will be alerted to the cancellation of lectures/seminars and other timetabled sessions. We will ensure they are not disadvantaged in their studies as a result.”