SWINDON BRACED FOR BIGGEST EVER STRIKE ACTION

From today’s Adver

Gas workers on strike in Chapel Street, Swindon, in 1979

(PICTURE: STRIKING GAS WORKERS FROM 1979)

A public sector walk out will be the biggest strike the town has ever seen, according to union bosses.

On Wednesday, November 30, thousands of public sector workers are expected to walk out over the Government’s proposed changes to their pensions.

Seventeen trade unions will strike, resulting in more than 7,000 people in Swindon taking action.

It is likely that all schools will be closed and most council services will be affected, as will the research councils and non-emergency NHS services.

There will be a march through the town centre, starting at Wharf Green at 10am and heading to MECA for a rally at 11am.

Jeannette Martin, regional director of the Royal College of Nursing, will be speaking at the rally.

Although the RCN will not be striking, Jeanette said the union felt strongly about the proposed changes and would ballot for industrial action unless the Government compromised over proposed changes to nurses’ pensions.

The RCN has 400,000 members nationally and is known for being completely opposed to industrial action, having never taken part in any in its history.

But the union feels so strongly about changes to NHS pension scheme that it is supporting other unions on strike next Wednesday and members who are not working on the day will attend the rally.

Jeannette said: “We want to show support in our own time for other unions. We remain very concerned for what is happening.

“The proposals will mean nurses having to work until the age of 68.

“It also means nurses will be paying more and getting less.

“It is not as if there is a need for it – nurse pension plans work differently and there is a £2bn surplus that the treasury can use, so I see increasing contributions as a way of increasing that surplus to manage the national deficit.”

Swindon GMB branch secretary Andy Newman said: “Trade unions are being forced to protest on November 30 because the Government is failing to negotiate about ill-considered pension reforms.

“We also welcome the support of a number of unions who are not yet taking strike action, like the RCN, the Fire Brigades Union and the Police Federation.”

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