UNISON members employed by North Devon Council are preparing to take part in the two days of national strike action planned for tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday. The strike is expected to affect all council services, including planning, housing benefit,
UNISON members employed by North Devon Council are preparing to take part in the two days of national strike action planned for tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday.The strike is expected to affect all council services, including planning, housing benefit, council tax, refuse collection, and all central services. Other services expected to be affected by the strike include local libraries, schools and fire stations.North Devon Unison branch chairman Rex Bassett, said today: "None of our members want to take strike action and because they are on such low pay, many can ill afford to. "However, we have to make a stand now and say enough is enough. Ten years of below inflation pay rises mean that council workers are among the lowest paid in the public sector."We are sure the general public will understand that we have been placed in this position because the employers are refusing to negotiate any further. We know that the public, like Unison, want high quality public services delivered by a properly rewarded and well-motivated workforce."We call upon North Devon Council to urge their representatives at national level, and the Government, to get back to the negotiating table and end this unnecessary and demoralising dispute."North Devon Council confirmed that it was anticipating significant disruption to services as a result of the action, but said it intended to remain open with skeleton staff during the two-day strike. While services most likely to be affected are refuse collections, revenues and benefits, housing advice, environmental health, licensing, food health and safety, due to the sensitive nature of the crematorium staffs' job the union has confirmed that they have no objection to them continuing to work. South Molton Community Office will be closed on both days, while the Ilfracombe Centre will remain open but will only offer a reduced service. Lynton House will be closed but will maintain a telephone service. The council is offering the following advice regarding rubbish and recycling collections: People are asked to put their black bins out for collection as usual on Wednesday and Thursday. However, if they aren't collected: Missed collections from Wednesday will be collected on Friday 18th or Tuesday 22nd.Missed collections from Thursday will be collected on Monday 21st or Tuesday 22nd. Put your green bin, green bag and box out for collection as usual. If they aren't emptied, bring them back in and put them out for collection on your next green bin/green box day. Angela Gizzi, head of human resources at North Devon Council, said: "There is approximately 50 per cent union membership across the council, including some departments with near 100 per cent membership. "However we will not know until the actual day of the strike exactly how many employees will exercise their right to strike." Mike Mansell, executive director (operations and finance) added: "We will try to minimise the impact of the strike as best we can but some disruption to key services such as refuse collection is inevitable. "We would ask the public to avoid contacting the council on these two days wherever possible."Please only contact the council on Wednesday and Thursday if the matter is urgent. Otherwise it would be appreciated if people could wait until Friday, July 18. The council asks that customers keep an eye on the news and its website (www.northdevon.gov.uk) over the next few days and if the strike is cancelled, all services will be operating as normal. The council can be contacted on (01271) 327711, or by emailing email@example.com.Torridge District Council said it would remain open as usual during the two-day strikes. John Edwards, head of human resources, said: "Some members of staff are expected to strike this week and we respect their right to do so. "However, we expect to be able to provide services as normal." James Morrish, Torridge District Council leader, added: "We very much work as one team at Torridge District Council and respect the views of all of our staff. "My understanding is that no services will be affected at any level with the council.