Strike action to affect schools and council services in Sutton
Schools are closed today and council services have been interrupted as workers take part in national strike action.
Six separate unions are involved in today's strike action with more than a million workers - including teachers, firefighters and civil servants - protest against a range of disputes including pay, pensions, working conditions and spending cuts.
Waste collections have been suspended in Sutton but the council said it will prioritise brown and green wheelie bin collections tomorrow.
There are pickets outside the council's civic offices in St Nicholas Way and its base in Therapia Lane.
Sutton Council's deputy leader Councillor Colin Hall said: "“We value our staff who all do a tremendous job but as a council we have all had to tighten our belts, like every other local authority in the country.
"We've understood the impact on our own lowest paid staff and that’s why we’ve introducing the London Living Wage for them.
“We've recognised the pressure staff are under and that is why we've made a national pay offer of 1%.
"We have to be realistic. This is all local government can afford at a time when Sutton Council must find another £38m of savings.”
Emily Brother's Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for Sutton and Cheam said she supports the strikes.
She added: "I don’t want a strike, not least because of the impact on children and parents, service users and the wider public.
Emily Brothers (second from right) with Carol Shorter, Sheila Cox & Kirsty Robertson of Unison
“Sadly, public sector workers have little option other than strike action in light of the coalition’s austerity measures, as well as the way they have ill-treated the pay and conditions of employees, many working part-time and on low pay.
“Instead of ramping up the rhetoric, the Government should get round the table, because both sides have a responsibility to stop it happening.
"Sutton Council likewise needs to engage with all unions in a more constructive way."
Schools have also been affected with some closed and many partially open. Sutton's National Union of Teachers secretary Andy Gibbons said: "Michael Gove is presiding over an education system with thousands of teachers leaving the job early and families struggling to find a school place for their child.
"Constant changes to the curriculum and assessment without proper consultation, evidence or time are wearing teachers out and damaging children's education.
Teachers from Sutton on strike in London
"Teachers have seen the value of their pay go down and their working hours go up.
"Michael Gove is refusing to listen and so we have no choice but to take strike action again. We know many parents understand that we are standing up for education and that this strike is Michael Gove’s fault."
For information on whether your school is open, visit www.opencheck.atomwide.com
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