Defiant Brent public servants strike over pay

Cllr Muhammed Butt joined the picket line outside Brent Civic Centre in support of the strikes

Cllr Muhammed Butt joined the picket line outside Brent Civic Centre in support of the strikes - Credit: Archant

Brent public sector workers came out in force as part of a nationwide day of action in protest against pay and living conditions.

Scores of people walked out on their jobs yesterday and joined the picket line, at Brent Civic Centre, in Engineers Way, Wembley, in bitter disputes over wages, pensions, jobs and spending cuts.

According to Unison, which claims to be Britain’s biggest trade union, many borough council workers have been struggling to make end’s meet –some of which have been forced rely on foodbanks and find second jobs.

They have lambasted the proposed one per cent increase in pay, claiming it is not in line with inflation which has allegedly soared by nearly 20 per cent.

Phil O’Reilly, Unison branch secretary at Brent Council said: “Council workers have kept on going in the face of four years of draconian government cuts to keep local services in Brent running.

“They care for our elderly and our vulnerable, keep our streets clean and educate and look after our children. They deserve better treatment than they have had at the hands of this Government.

He continued: “Taking strike action is never easy but our/my members are sending a clear message to the government that they have had enough.”

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The strike action had a crippling impact on education in Brent, as almost a third of all primary and secondary school in the borough closed it’s gates for the day – while some opting to partially open.

A Department for Education (DfE) has panned the action, claiming the national union of teacher (NUT) has tried to cause as much disruption for children and their families as possible and lambasting the idea of further strikes.

Telling the Times there has been a 60 per cent drop of schools which closed the last industrial action, a DfE spokesman said: “Less than a quarter of NUT members voted in favour of striking in a ballot which is now two years old. The NUT asked for talks, we agreed and talks are carrying on.”

Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of the council, showed his support to the strike, claiming the government’s “brutal” cuts has a negative impact on the most vulnerable resident in the borough.

Francis Maude Minister for the Cabinet Office thanked the public servants who took no part in the action.

He continued: “As part of our long-term economic plan, this Government has had to take tough decisions, including to restrain public sector pay. The blame for today’s disruption rests with those union leaders who pushed for unnecessary strike action with weak mandates.”