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Mass walk-out as more than 2,500 workers strike across Worcestershire
11:00am Friday 11th July 2014 in Local
SCHOOLS were crippled, bus services reduced, libraries closed and thousands of bin collections shelved as about 2,500 public sector workers went on strike across Worcestershire.
Yesterday's dramatic walk-out, the biggest co-ordinated strike effort to hit the county this century, was condemned by David Cameron but people at picket lines across the county said that they felt under attack.
At County Hall, the HQ of Worcestershire County Council, Unison said around 2,000 of its members had not gone into work.
The strikes included staff at Ringway, the council's highways service for tending to road repairs.
Jim Price, secretary of Worcestershire's Unison branch, said: "We've had a lot of support even from people who have crossed the picket line.
"The park and ride has been badly hit, which is ironic and we've all seen what it's done to libraries and schools.
"We never want to inconvenience people but they must realise what's at stake here."
It also resulted in 29 schools being affected with 10 shut completely and 19 partially closed.
Angry firefighters in Redditch and Bromsgrove also joined the strikes - saying they felt they had no other option.
A picket line formed across Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service's HQ at 10am and remained in place until 7pm yesterday evening.
The Fire Brigades Union's (FBU) dispute centred around not only the one per cent public sector pay offer but pension reforms.
The changes mean firefighters are paying 14.2 per cent into their pensions compared to 11.9 per cent three years ago, and will work until 60 to draw it down.
Watch commander Adrian Farmer, who was one of scores of staff on the picket line said: "This has gone on for long enough and we feel we've no other option.
"Imagine if your house was burning down and a load of firefighters turned up in their 60s."
Firefighter Gary Southam, 48, said: "It's a hard job and none of this is helping - we don't want to strike but we feel like we've got little choice."
As well as yesterday's walk-out, the FBU is planning eight consecutive days of strike action from this Monday.
Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service yesterday said it was operating on a reduced response but insisted all emergency calls would be addressed with the remaining staff on duty.
Fire Minister Brandon Lewis has heavily criticised the walk-outs, saying the union keeps "disrupting a taxpayer-funded service" with "unnecessary" industrial action.
Meanwhile, amid yesterday's drama Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to include a policy in his 2015 election manifesto to impose minimum thresholds on ballots before strikes are allowed.
Mr Cameron said it "cannot be right for children’s education to be disrupted by trade unions" after teachers joined in based on a poll of just a quarter of teaching union members two years ago.