How The Strikes Are Affecting Daily Life

November 30th, 20114:50 pm @

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How The Strikes Are Affecting Daily Life

With hundreds of thousands of people undertaking industrial action, here is the roundup of the effects across Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

:: James Matthews at Edinburgh Airport

Immigration staffing contingency plans have appeared to alleviate the worst fears of people flying into Scotland.

Its major airports were braced for disruption but there few signs of it, at least early on.

The UK Border Agency pulled in extra staff from around the world to form what it called a “contingency pool”.

They were given a crash course in passport control and it seemed to work, with few delays at immigration control.

Airlines had also made provision for the protest. Continental Airlines’ early morning flight from Newark to Edinburgh departed half an hour early – too early, indeed, for the immigration staff who had not clocked-on in time.

Passengers had to be held on the plane for ten minutes upon arrival and Edinburgh Airport, in common with its counterparts, made provision for possible delays.

Portable toilets, extra buses, temporary smoking zones and refreshments were laid on airside for passengers in case they were held up.

The big fear for airport managers in Scotland is that any problems at Heathrow or Gatwick could lead to significant knock-on delays and strand passengers north of the border.

Meanwhile, there are picket lines outside Edinburgh Castle and buildings across Scotland, including the Holyrood Parliament.

Inside, MSPs are debating public sector pensions, albeit in the absence of the Labour and Green Parties, whose parliamentarians are refusing to cross the picket line.

In total, around 300,000 Scottish public workers are on strike.

Hundreds of schools are closed, thousands of NHS operations have been cancelled and travel has been hit, with the Glasgow underground closed and ferries to and from Shetland cancelled.

:: David Blevins in Belfast

Striking bus and train drivers have shut down Northern Ireland’s public transport network.

Some 200,000 people use bus transport daily and 25,000 travel by train.

The shutdown sparked fears of commuter chaos but traffic has actually been flowing more freely than usual.

With the exception of motorways, the Police Service of Northern Ireland is not enforcing bus lanes.

The closure of most schools and colleges is seen as another explanation for the lack of traffic congestion.
Strike Twitpics

 

:: David Crabtree in Nottingham

The government has estimated that about 400,000 healthcare workers in England are taking strike action.

They are paramedics, physiotherapists, nurses, healthcare assistants and support staff such as cleaners and administrators.

About 60,000 non-urgent operations and out-patients appointments have had to be rescheduled and the strike action in Nottingham has led to a backlog of operations.

At the Queen’s Medical Centre “hundreds of staff” are said to have stayed away from work and 15 operations have been postponed amid a knock-on effect, inconveniencing patients for the next few days.

Hospital director of workforce and strategy Daniel Mortimer said a contingency plan had been in operation for a number of days leading up to the strike, including some non-striking workers agreeing to work longer shifts.

“As a result we are coping very well. The staff and unions have been very good with information and keeping us in touch,” he said.

Asked what he thought of the strike he replied: “I understand entirely the frustration of our staff about discussions on their pensions at the moment.

“There’s a huge degree of frustration. We wish there had been some other way of raising that frustration rather than taking strike action.

“We are aware there are discussions going on nationally and we would like to see those completed before there is any more action.”

:: Lisa Dowd in Birmingham

Small businesses across the West Midlands have been hit hard.

Joanne McDonnell from Joanne’s Florist in Kingstanding, Birmingham, has three part-time staff off work because they are at home looking after their children due to school closures.

The 38-year-old mother had to take her two youngsters, Mirren, 14, and Ewan, 11, to the shop to help out.

“I am short-staffed and we’ve got a large shop here. Luckily, I’ve managed to get someone in for the coffee shop,” she said.

“We’ve got the gifts and cards, and florist side, but I’m going to have to deal with it myself and hopefully my kids can help me out when I’ve got a queue.”

“I do have some sympathy for the strikers,” she adds.

“But I don’t think they understand how tough it is. I’ve been self-employed since I was 21 and I can’t afford a pension, if they had a day or week as self-employed they might realise what it’s like out there.”

:: Emma Birchley in Norfolk

Like other regions, many parents in eastern parts of England have had to take time off work to look after children whose schools are closed.

A total of 245 out of 430 Norfolk schools have closed due to strike action.

It has affected many people who themselves are not taking part.

Squash coach David Youngs has had to cancel lessons to take care of daughter Chloe, five, after Woodside Nursery and Infant School in Hethersett – near Norwich – joined the closure list.

“I do have sympathy with the teachers. They are fighting for their rights but I’m not going to earn any money staying at home with my child,” he said.

It is the same for Debbie Hawkins, who runs a dance school and should have been doing paperwork rather than looking after her five-year-old daughter Grace.

“I understand the need for the strike. It’s just a shame they can’t resolve it a different way so they don’t have to close the schools,” she told Sky News.

Article source: http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/UK-News/Impact-Of-Strike-Action-Across-UK-Many-Non-Strikers-Hit-By-Protest—Sky-News-Staff-Report/Article/201111416120984?f=rss