Strike ‘will not bring Redbridge to a halt’ says council leader

The leader of Redbridge Council is confident striking workers will fail to bring the borough to a halt if planned action goes ahead at the end of the month.

Last week Unison voted to go ahead with strike action, despite a last minute offer from ministers over pension reform, and a walkout by a raft of unions could see schools, courts, libraries and public offices in Redbridge close.

Council leader Cllr Keith Prince said plans are in place to keep the borough running if the strike goes ahead on November 30.

He told the Recorder everybody is being forced to tighten their belts, adding: “Lower paid staff will actually get a better deal under the plans.

“I understand why people are aggrieved, but in the bigger picture they have the best pension around.”

He said because people are now living longer, the cost of pensions has gone up.

“In 1911 the average life expectancy of a man was about 49 years, but now it is 72,” added Cllr Prince.

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“We have to say thank God we’re living longer, but we will have to expect to work longer too.”

Labour group leader Jas Athwal said: “I hope serious negotiations will take place so the strikes do not go ahead.

“But the worrying point is that people are having to pay more, work longer while there are pay freezes and inflation is rocketing.

“All these things together mean we have to make a stand.”

In a repeat of action which closed nearly all Redbridge school gates in June, members of the National Union of Teachers also plan to walk out, and they could be joined by other groups such as the National Association of Headteachers.

Liberal Democrat group leader, Cllr Ian Bond, called the industrial action “pointless”.

“My main concern is the schools,” he added.

“If we can open schools we will do so.”