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Strikes Shut Half of Cornish Schools

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12:37pm 30th November 2011
(Updated 12:37pm 30th November 2011)

Cancelled hospital appointments, scrapped rubbish collections and passenger delays of up to 12 hours at our biggest airports.

That is what faces Britain as the biggest public sector strike for four decades gets underway.

More than half of Cornish schools shut.

Teachers from the Lizard to Launceston are joining the nationwide walk-out over pensions.

It has left mums and dads struggling to find childcare, including Faye from Perranuthnoe: "I have a network of friends but I think not having family is one of the most difficult things. I've gone to the normal people that might care for Lilly and none of them have any availability. I've had to go and visit work to see if I can swap over my shifts, which I can't".

Over a hundred teachers, nurses, firefighters and paramedics are at a rally in Truro. 

Truro Rally Pension Row 30/11/11

South Western Ambulance bosses are urging us to think before we dial 999.

But they insist patients will not suffer.

Liskeard emergency care assistant Alison Blackmore is on the picket line:

"Because of the management and the relationship that our unions have with South Western Ambulance service, and they've been very healthy, we've been happy to let them guide us knowing that they will not ultimately compromise life and limb cover. If that is being done, that is because the Trust has not utilised the facilities it has and not because of our individual actions"

"Part of our contract for coming into this job was very much our pension. You don't have a contract and then just change that willy nilly because somebody's done a very poor job of managing the country's finances and we don't really want to be paying out the banking crisis, which is what this is."

Up to two million workers are striking, from coastguards to cleaners and lollipop men and women to librarians.

It could hit your journey to work too.

The Torpoint ferries are not working.

Staff say they will carry emergency vehicles only.

So why the walk-outs?

Workers say the pension changes will mean working longer for less, especially after the mini-budget, with the public sector pension age being raised to 67 by 2026.

From next year, public sector pay rises are capped at 1%

The TUC says more than 152 thousand workers are striking across the south-west and more than 16.5 thousand are in Cornwall.

Duchy spokesman Nigel Costley says it could mean a fairer deal for everyone: "We've got to get this right together and not fall into the trap of division. I would say to people give us the benefit of the doubt, have a look, talk to the people who have taken strike action today and I think you will come round to the sense of injustice people are really feeling".

Bin collections could be affected across Cornwall and the council says, "There may be some disruption to normal routines that results in non collection of waste. Householders are advised that is their waste has not been collected by the usual time or it is still there at 6pm, to take it in and store it until the next scheduled collection. Please do not leave the waste at the collection point if this happens".

South-Western Ambulance bosses issued this statement:

“I would like to offer an assurance to the communities we serve across our operational area of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset and Somerset, that despite the industrial action, serious emergencies will get an immediate response.

“We would urge people to ‘Choose Well’. Is their call most appropriate to direct to the ambulance service, or is it best suited to an alternative care provider like a GP, walk in-centre or NHS Direct?

“There are members of ambulance staff, both front line and non front line, who have chosen to support industrial action. The Trust has worked in partnership with trade union representatives to ensure that existing contingency plans can be implemented to maintain services to patients.

“No-one has engaged in strike action lightly as our staff are passionate about the vital role they play within the National Health Service.”

At 10am, strikers and supporters will meet for a rally at the Hall for Cornwall in Truro.

In Plymouth, a candlelit vigil is underway at Derriford Hospital and a march will place from the Guildhall at 11am.

12:37pm 30th November 2011

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