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Newham public services are hit by strikes

PUBLISHED: 11:10 30 November 2011 | UPDATED: 15:04 30 November 2011

Picket line at Newham Dockside

Picket line at Newham Dockside

Archant

Residents across the borough are experiencing disruption to their day-to-day lives as the public sector workers’ strike bites in Newham.

Schools and libraries are closed, council workers have formed picket lines, there are delays at London City Airport and the ambulance service is “under pressure”.

Members of public service unions Unison, GMB, Unite and the NUT have walked out against increased pension contributions, extended retirement dates and reduced benefits.

Picket lines began forming outside the Stratford Village from 7am; the Resource Centre in Plaistow from 7.30am; NewVIc in Plaistow from 8am; First Line Grassroots in Plaistow from 8am; Green Street in Upton Park from 8am; the Contact Centre in Dockside from 7.30am; and the Gate in Forest Gate from 8am.

Only two schools in the borough, St James C of E Junior School in Forest Gate and St Joachim’s Catholic Primary in Custom House, remain fully open this morning as teachers from several unions join the industrial action.

For a full list of closures and schools that are partially open, visit www.newham.gov.uk/EducationAndLearning/Schools/Emergencyschoolclosures.

The University of East London said that it was aware some of its workers may strike but individual schools had made their own arrangements.

There is no picket line at Newham General Hospital this morning.

Members of the London Ambulance Service have joined those on strike but they are expected to make themselves available for emergency cover.

Deputy Director of Operations Jason Killens said: “As ever, we will prioritise our response so that our most seriously ill and injured patients get help quickly, but some people who are not in a life-threatening condition may have to wait longer than normal for an ambulance response.

“While we have arrangments for staff to provide emergency cover, we do expect our service to be under pressure and we would urge people to only call in a genuine emergency.”

London City Airport has also been affected as UK Border Agency staff, who are members of the GMB union, have walked out today.

The airport at the Royal Docks said that immigration desks will be manned and will operate as normal but passengers may experience some delays at border control.

A spokesman for the airport said: “We wish to apologise for any inconvenience this may cause you.”

But the GMB union, whose workers also plan to strike outside the council’s Dockside building and the Town Hall, issued a statement in support of the workers.

Paul Hayes, GMB Regional Secretary, said: “Millions of public sector workers will be protesting about the government’s unfair and bullying attack on their pensions.

“It is about time that the government started to appreciate and praise public sector workers rather than attacking them, vilifying them and kicking them around.”


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