Get involved: Send pictures, video, news and views - text NEWS SHOPPER to 80360 or email us
Public sector workers strike across News Shopper's patch
Schools across News Shopper’s patch are closed or disrupted today as teachers join council workers and firefighters for a national strike.
Dozens of nurseries, primary schools and secondary schools in Greenwich, Lewisham, Bromley and Bexley are closed or partially open.
In north Kent Northfleet School for Girls, West Hill Primary School in Dartford and Wrotham Road Primary School in Gravesend are all operating at less than full capacity.
Home helps, lollipop men and women, refuse collectors, librarians, dinner ladies, parks attendants, council road safety officers, caretakers and cleaners are among those striking alongside teachers, firefighters, civil servants and transport workers.
Council workers picketed offices in Bexleyheath, Woolwich and Gravesend.
Outside the Woolwich Centre, a large crowd of strikers gathered from a whole range of unions. There was even an address from firebrand Unite chief Len McCluskey who called for Labour to "get off the fence" on the issues affecting strikers.
Len McCluskey in Woolwich.
And he told the crowd: "Working people joining together can change things.
"The message being sent out right across our nation today is we're not prepared to tolerate this injustice any further."
Dave Turner from Unison told the crowd that council chief executive Mary Ney earned £100 an hour while an agency cleaner was on just £6.50.
He told News Shopper: "I think today really shows our support. We've got a lot of members who earn less than £15,000 a year.
"We're hoping for further action in September to force the government to give us a decent pay rise."
Caretaker David Hunt had joined the picket line early. He said: "We haven't had a pay rise for four years. Basically, everything's gone up and we've just stayed at a level which is not sustainable.
"For instance, our housing association has just had a rent increase. It's getting harder and harder to pay for something like that."
Tim Woodcock, branch secretary for Greenwich NUT, told News Shopper: "I'm supporting our workers in Greenwich by visiting picket lines around the borough.
"It's important we take strike action to stick up for our teachers."
Strikers outside the Civic Offices in Bexleyheath.
Gravesham Council Unison branch secretary Jackie Denton said: "Local government workers have kept on going in the face of four years of draconian government cuts to keep local services running.
"In Gravesham community cohesion is particularly important to us.
"We have a very diverse community and despite cuts we continue to provide free leisure events throughout the year to bring our community together and want to continue doing this.
"We are also proud to be rolling out a new recycling scheme in the borough.
"Taking strike action is never easy and our members are sending a clear message to the Government that they have had enough."
In total, more than a million people are taking part in the one-day walkout as part of bitter disputes over pay, pensions, jobs and spending cuts.
The action has been hailed as the biggest strike over pay to hit the Government since it came to power in 2010.
Hundreds of administrative workers at Transport for London have downed tools in a row over pay and pensions.
Fire chiefs urged people to take extra care because of the walkout by members of the Fire Brigades Union in England and Wales between 10am and 7pm – the 15th round of industrial action in a long-running row over pensions and retirement age.
Hundreds of thousands of children are affected as more than 200,000 members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) are thought to have taken part in the walkout.
The union's general secretary, Christine Blower, said: "We obviously think the strike will go very well, there will be many thousands of public sector workers out and that will affect a lot of schools.
"I've been getting messages from people saying that they are more determined now than they were in the past to take action.
The picket line outside Gravesham Civic Offices this morning.
"There are a thousand teachers in every constituency and politicians need to start listening and begin to put pressure on the Government themselves.”
The NUT's action, which focuses on three issues - pay, pensions and working conditions - has been condemned by the Department for Education (DfE), which said that it will hold back pupils' education.
The TUC has said public sector workers are on average more than £2,000 worse off under the Government, while half a million council employees earn less than the living wage.
A Cabinet Office spokesman said: "The vast majority of dedicated public sector workers did not vote for today's action, and early indications are that most are turning up for work as usual.
"It is disappointing that, once again, some union leaders have pushed for strike action that will achieve nothing and benefit no one.”
Are you striking today or do you have a view on the action being taken? Leave your comments below or send your thoughts and pictures to @NewsShopper on Twitter.
- UPDATED: 10-year-old girl hit by white van in Harrow Manor Way, Thamesmead
- MORE fires at Waste4Fuel
- Two Belvedere men arrested over suspected £3 million fuel fraud
- Eltham marine's catastrophic injuries after assault course fall
- Bexley councillors vote against plans to slash their numbers by a third