THOUSANDS of public sector workers are set to walk out over proposed changes to their pensions in what unions believe will be the biggest strike in the district since the 1980s.
Members of Unison, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and Trades Union Congress (TUC) are preparing to strike on November 30 over what they claim are government plans to “pay more, work more and get less”.
Adrian O’Malley, spokesman for Wakefield TUC, said: “November 30 will be the biggest strike in Wakefield since the miners’ strike, with thousands protesting against the government’s robbery of our pensions.
“The government has misjudged the strength of feeling among public sector workers who are angry about having to pay more into their pensions, for longer and get less when they retire.”
Kevin Osborne, regional officer for Wakefield’s local government branch of Unison, said he expected thousands of people to stand up and be counted.
He said: “As far as council workers are concerned we’re expecting action on November 30 to be well-supported.
“We’ve spoken to around 3,000 members over the last few weeks and there’s been very little opposition in supporting the action.
“Our members are angry – their pensions are being raided by the government and that’s the message we have to get across.”
Sally Kincaid, NUT divisional secretary, said she expected the “vast majority” of schools in Pontefract to either partially or fully close.
She said: “No teacher goes on strike lightly, but I am not surprised that teachers are prepared to do this.
“Recent calculations have shown that teachers have paid more into the teachers’ pension fund than has been paid out to them, and any extra contribution will go straight into the treasury.
“This is just a tax on teachers and other public sector workers.”
Health workers are also expected to take action on Wednesday and picket lines will be outside Pontefract Hospital from 5.30am.
Melanie Jones, chairman of the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust Unison branch, said: “Our pensions contributions are already massive.
“We have rights and the government has taken advantage of the goodwill of nurses for too long.”