Schools closed in strike chaos; Emergency measures over pensions protest.Byline: By Steve Johnson Steve Johnson is the name of:
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MORE than 150 schools across the Black Country were closed today as thousands of union members threw their weight behind the biggest national strike in 80 years.
Emergency measures were put in place by the four Black Country councils - Sandwell, Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton - as local authority officials battled to maintain key services to the public.
A total of 33 schools were closed in Sandwell, together with 80 in Walsall, 16 at Dudley and more than 40 in Wolverhampton.
All of Sandwell's homes for older people and children's homes remained open, and social workers were on call to deal with emergencies.
Striking workers in Sandwell were picketing the council's education headquarters at Shaftesbury House in High Street, West Bromwich, and there were more pickets outside health offices at Kingston House just yards away. One of the strikers dressed as a chicken, with the banner "Lay off our nest egg Nest Egg
A special sum of money saved or invested for one specific future purpose.
Examples of the purposes for which nest eggs are usually intended include retirement, education, and even entertainment (vacations and cruises). ".
A major rally was being held from 11.15am until noon outside Sandwell Council House in Oldbury.
Tony Barnsley, joint assistant branch secretary with the Sandwell branch of Unison, said the Government's attempts to get staff to work another five years or lose thousands of pounds off their pensions had resulted in largescale industrial action.
"On average, ballots across all unions showed 80 per cent in favour of strike action," he added. Sandwell's head of human resources Peter Titley said it was hoped to open as many of the council's buildings as possible but he could not promise to maintain all council services.
Refuse collections due to be made today were suspended, with bins due to be emptied on Saturday instead.
In Walsall the First Stop Shop in the town centre was forced to shut and widespread disruption to council services was expected.
Walsall market was closed due to health and safety issues but registrars were available for births, marriages and deaths Since 1837 all births, marriages and deaths in England and Wales have been registered at a Register Office in the region where the event took place. A copy of these registration entries are sent quarterly to the United Kingdom's General Register Office, the GRO. .
In Dudley a similar emergency duty cover was operating, similar to Bank Holidays.
Sufficient staff were working to operate essential services including those for children and vulnerable adults, home care services and meals on wheels n. 1. A program that delivers hot meals to persons, such as the elderly or disabled, who are confined to their homes and unable to cook for themselves; also, the meals thus delivered. Such programs are usually conducted by governmental or charitable organizations. . Emergency duty social workers were available and legal staff representing the council in court cases. Unison has also granted an exemption ensuring the school crossing patrol service was not affected.
Refuse collections were also suspended and anyone planning a visit to council-run leisure centres, libraries, museums and halls was advised to check they were open before setting out.
Wolverhampton Market was closed, along with the open market and Wednesfield market. All libraries were closed and Graiseley Recreation Centre and Central Baths shut. The council's other leisure centres were open. Wolverhampton Art Gallery Wolverhampton Art Gallery is located in the Millennium City of Wolverhampton and opened in May 1884. The building was funded and constructed by Philip Horsman and built on land provided by the Council. was closed along with Bantock House Museum and Bilston Craft Gallery.
PICKET... Beverley Mountain and Pam Cross from Sandwell Social Services taking industrial action today.