CLASSROOMS have closed their doors and council services disrupted as workers, teachers, civil servants and firefighters staged a mass walkout today, Thursday.

More than 20 schools in the east of the borough are partially closed to year groups or classes with five schools completely closed for the day, as members of the National Union of Teachers walk out in a national dispute over pay, pension and workloads.

They have been joined by firefighters from the Fire Brigades Union, civil servants in the Public and Commercial Services union, council and school support workers in the GMB and Unison, who have already said they will be taking part in the walkout, which is poised to be the biggest co-ordinated public-sector strike in years.

Adult day centres are also affected while overflowing bins could be on the cards for some residents after the council confirmed that bins will not be collected on Thursday.

Alison McKenzie-Folan, director of customer transformation at Wigan Council, said: “A number of services across the council are likely to be disrupted due to the national strike action.

“We would ask customers and residents to visit our website to keep up to date with the impact on services. We expect call waiting times to increase significantly and as such we would urge residents to only contact us for urgent issues.

“Alternatively use our website which can answer many of your queries, or contact us via email.”

Bins scheduled for collection today, Thursday, will not be collected until the next scheduled collection day.

The council is advising residents to take extra waste to one of the household waste recycling centres in Atherton and Leigh in the meantime, with collections resuming on Friday as normal.

The council’s bulky waste collection will be unavailable, as will pest control, except for emergencies.

Registrars will have fewer staff, meaning fewer appointments will be available.

Seven adult day centres will be closed, although Broadmead, Etherstone and Hunter will remain open. Service users have been notified about the disruptions by letter.

The strike will not affect Wigan and Leigh Housing.

Max Atkins, divisional secretary at Wigan NUT, said: “Figures released after a previous strike show that primary school teachers are working 60 hours a week and secondary school teachers 55 hours a week.

“Teachers have no problem working hard but it has nothing to do with the education, it is to do with providing data to the government. We are also opposed to performance related pay. It is counter-productive because teachers who up until now are happy to help each other will have too much to do.”

Readers have been voicing their opinions about the strike on our Facebook page.

John Michael Lythgoe posted: “These jobs are the ones that invest in our children and we should invest in them. On the other matter I think it ludicrous that from next term you cannot takes kids out of school in term time but that is central government not the schools.”
Pamela Latheron wrote: “There’s only a week left before schools break up, why not wait till then?
“For the others OK, but the only time I used get a pay rise was when the minimum wage went up with no pension, we all suffer too.”