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WE WON'T BACK DOWN OVER PAY DEAL; ++ COUNCIL DISPUTE ++.

Byline: By Sian Powell

STRIKING council workers were out again today causing huge disruption across Nuneaton, Bedworth and north Warwickshire.

Across the county as a whole 19 schools have been forced to closed.

Binmen, street cleaners, classroom assistants, cleaners, dinner ladies and library staff are among those who walked out as part of the 48- hour action which began yesterday.

They are protesting over a national pay offer of 2.45 per cent.

The union leaders' defiant message to the government was: If you don't increase the pay offer, we'll be out again.

The closed schools include primaries such as Weddington and St Anne's RC in Nuneaton and special schools such as Oak Wood Primary.

In Nuneaton and Bedworth, all borough council buildings - including the town hall, Bedworth Civic Hall and the museum - have been closed to the public since yesterday, and there is reduced capacity on the council's switchboard.

The borough's leisure centres are also affected, with the main Pingles Leisure Centre in Avenue Road, Nuneaton, having to close its pool for the duration of the strike.

Bin collections in the borough have also been disrupted. There have been no collections of black refuse bins, but recycled waste collections have gone ahead as normal.

In north Warwickshire 118 of the council's 152 union members are on strike.

The two-day strike which ends today has seen schools close in Dordon and Atherstone.

The area's leisure centres have so far all opened, with the exception of Polesworth, which is scheduled to reopen at 4.30pm today.

People in the area are advised that if their normal collection days are Wednesdays and Thursdays, their collections will be made the following week and any extra rubbish bags will be collected.

Green waste collections for those days will need to wait for the next scheduled collection.

Reuben Bergman, deputy head of human resources at the county council, said: "Early indications suggest that less than 10 per cent of the workforce are striking.

"Things are going to plan and when staff are taking action the measures put in place to minimise disruption have been effective.

"We're keeping in contact with the public whether in person or via the website and all access and contact points are open."

Steve Akers, regional organiser of Unison, sent a defiant message to the government yesterday during a rally outside Coventry Council House.

Mr Akers said: "Employers have to realise that this dispute is not going away until they come back to the negotiating table and improve what is frankly an insulting offer.

"We want them to move towards us but if they won't shift then we will come out again - watch this space for further action.

"The people we are talking about are a low-paid workforce who deliver value for money and the public should get behind them because they provide vital services."

CAPTION(S):

FAIR DEAL... Workers outside Earlsdon Library in Coventry (above, from left) Chris Burrow, Sarah Feeney, Dawn Palmer-Ward, Avril Manger and Rose Feeney and (left) crowds at the Unison rally in Coventry city centre. DJ160708STRI3; JB160708UNI8; 'INSULTING OFFER'... Support worker Rob Mcllreavy protesting outside Shire Hall in Warwick. Pictures: Joe Bailey, James Balfour and Matt Barron MB160708STRI3; FEELINGS RUNNING HIGH... Cllr Dave Nellist (far left and inset) addressing the protesters outside the Council House in Coventry city centre and (above) angry council workers and union representatives spell out their feelings over the 2.45 per cent pay offer. JB160708STRI5; JB160708STRI2; JB160708STRI1
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jul 17, 2008
Words:576
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