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Striking our only option

Date online: 11 July 2014

“STRIKING is not what we want to do, but we feel we have no choice — this is our last resort.”

Julie Finnegan, Unison’s branch secretary, apologised for the disruption caused to Oldhamers affected by yesterday’s strike action but said members were at the end of their tether.

From the picket line at Southlink Business Park, she added: “Striking is not a decision we have taken lightly, it truly is our last resort.

“A lot of council workers support vulnerable Oldhamers and they did not want to be leaving services short but they need to do this for themselves.

“We need to make sure we get decent pay. The Government has capped our pay rise at 1 per cent which is a cut in real terms. People are struggling to pay their bills.

“Council workers should not be relying on foodbanks and benefits to survive.

“We just want a decent wage and that will in turn help the economy grow. If people have more in their pockets, they will spend more.

“We can understand people’s feelings towards the disruption caused but we feel we were forced to do this.”

Schools and libraries across Oldham were closed and the waste collection service was suspended for the day.

On the Moorhey Street depot picket line, Peter Bennett from Unite, said: “All we want is a fair pay rise. We have been capped for the last few years. The Government has already announced a further cap until 2018 when it originally said 2015.

“The country is coming out of a bad economic period now but we are still being punished.

“We apologise for the disruption caused by our action but at this moment in time we have been given no option — the Government is not willing to negotiate.”
For a full version of this story see the digital edition or buy the Chronicle.


They want to try working in the private sector, I have lost my final salary pension (would love a public sector pension), had minimal pay increases but if I strike I would lose my job.

All well and good opting to strike, heowever when striking is just an excuse to enjoy the sun or go shopping rankles. I know of at least 3 people 'striking' that used the day relaxing rather than being on the picket line with their colleagues in support!

Why not publish a list of salaries that our public service workers get and then let the general public make up their own minds.

I have no sympathy whatsoever with these strikers. If you don't like the terms, pay and conditions then guess what...find another job! Good luck with that by the way. People in the private sector are struggling even more but if we went on strike we wouldn't have a job. We have to suffer by taking unpaid time off work whenever these nimby public sector workers feel a bit fed up. It should be illegal for teachers and the like to go on strike. Selfish people!

If you don't like what this government is doing then vote for the opposition, don't take it out on parents that have to pay for child minders as they still have to go to work, you get more holidays than anyone else & you still complain, in Saddleworth we pay the highest council tax in the borough so you continue with your strike & the result will mean i have to pay even more council tax, there are plenty of people who want jobs sack the lot of them & give the jobs to more deserving people.

Due to the increment freeze on selected staff last year, i lost thousands over the next 6 years. The union did absolutely nothing about it, and wouldn’t even ballot for action against the Labour run Council. Zoom forward a year and they are striking over a pay rise not being enough and demand £1 per worker nationally that is completely unrealistic.

It’s about time unions stopped trying to run the country and decide who is in charge and started looking after the members it has who are consistent

If only you all new the truth. I was one of those on strike – the first time in over 30 years. Thursday cost me just over a £100 so a decision not taken lightly. We have had our terms and conditions changed twice – with no option to accept other than lose your job.As I say these have been changed twice!! Oh and by the way, we no longer have a final salary pension that has been changed to, to a career average, which we contribute to!!!

exactly billy, so why choose now to strike over a pay rise? and not the changes to terms and conditions that have cost workers far more?

the answer is simple - it is in their national political interests now, yet they let the labour ran oldham council do whatever they want and target lower paid workers by freezing increments. they dont care about workers, just national politics.

Simply not true mr grumpy. Increment freeze is across all staff at all levels. Due to austerity cuts the council has to find £60m on top of the £100m already saved. To safeguard jobs an increment freeze is the only way to go. Morally it's not right but it's one way to reduce risks of redundancy. This strike is because public sector staff have had a real term pay cut due to no increases for years followed by 1% on top of being told their signed pension agreements are now changing!!

@mr grumpy - also nothing to do with Labour on a national level either. In fact the unions have been very anti Miliband as he has not fully supported the strikes and has confirmed he would not change pay offer. This action by the unions is a moral one against austerity and the fact public sector workers are getting penalised for a financial problem caused by the private sector

Incorrect Bramble.

I submitted a FOI request that came back that 78% of grades 1-6 were not at the top of their grades, whilst under 50% of staff on more pay still had increments to climb.

A much fairer way was a 1.5% cut for everybody.

@mr grumpy - not exactly sure what your point is? Basically you're agreeing with me! Clearly staff below and above grade 6 will not move up their increments but there are more people below grade 6 are affected. You've confirmed my point that all levels are affected. Thanks


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