Wirral Council confirmed today that a substantial number of Wirral schools will be closed as teachers and public sector workers stage a one-day strike on Thursday.
Chief officers were meeting at 1pm today to study the impact of the strike on council services across the peninsula. A full statement is expected to be released later today.
The National Union of Teachers – the biggest teaching union – claim the majority of schools across Merseyside will have no option but to close during the strike, which is over pay and working conditions.
The industrial action – triggered by growing union anger over Government austerity measures – also involves members of Unison, Unite the Union, GMB, PCS and the Fire Brigades Union.
Peter Glover, NUT executive member for Cheshire and Merseyside, said: “Teachers don’t want to strike, they just want to do their best for children. But enough is enough.
“The July 10 strike is an opportunity for teachers and other workers to fight back against a government that does not care about the public sector and is doing its level best to destroy it.”
And he warned: “If head teachers are planning to stay open it’s reckless folly because firefighters will also be on strike. We’re asking head teachers to think very carefully because safety should come first.”
During the March NUT strike 90% of schools closed or were partially closed.
Unison said successive years of pay freezes and pay caps had left low-paid staff worse off than ever before with increasing numbers resorting to using food banks.
John Lewis, Unison North West’s head of local government, said: “A decent pay rise for local government and school support staff is long overdue. People are really struggling on poverty pay.
“People don’t go on strike lightly, but our members see no alternative to taking action now. It shows there is a groundswell of opinion that people have had enough of austerity and are not prepared to tolerate it any longer.”
Peter Middleman, regional secretary of The PCS union, which represent civil servants, said members rejected the “economic medicine” that had, for four years, been “killing the patient.”
He commented: “George Osborne should emerge from his bubble of privilege and wake up to the fact that all but the super-wealthy are suffering at the hands of his austerity politics.”
The Department of Education said advice had been given to schools on what they could do to stay open during the strike.
A spokesman said: “Head teachers know their schools best and they can arrange cover during strikes from volunteers who have had appropriate checks carried out, should they need to.
“There is no justification for further strikes. The unions asked for talks; we agreed to their requests and talks are ongoing.
“Ministers have also meet frequently with the unions and will continue to do so.”