SCHOOLS and council offices across Hyndburn were closed on Tuesday when hundreds of staff went on strike in a protest over planned changes to their pensions.
Hollins, Rhyddings, Norden and Mount Carmel RC high schools, White Ash Special School and Hyndburn Park Primary School were all closed as teaching assistants and ancillary staff walked out.
All council offices apart from Scaitcliffe House were closed and union members picketed sites around the town centre, including Scaitcliffe House and the Town Hall. Accrington Market Hall remained open to shoppers.
Normal refuse and recycling collections did not take place, and residents who were due to have their bins collected have been asked to put them out tomorrow (Sat), when there will be an extra collection.
Members of nine trade unions took part in the strike, over a dispute about proposed changes to the Local Government Pension Scheme which do not include protection for existing members.
New members of the scheme will have to retire at 65, but unions want to see some of the savings from this re-invested in keeping the rule of 85 for current members, which enables them to retire early if their age and length of service add up to 85.
They argue that members of the scheme are among the lowest-paid workers, and public sector workers with other pension schemes have been given guarantees that current members will be given safeguards when reforms are put in place.
Steve Watson, Hyndburn Council branch secretary of Unison, the biggest union taking part, said: "I thought the strike was very successful.
"As far as we were concerned the vast majority of Unison members respected the strike and didn't come into work.
"We got some very positive feedback from members of the public, especially around the Accrington Town Hall area."
Hyndburn Council leader Peter Britcliffe said: "Obviously we tried to minimise the disruption. This matter is completely out of our hands. It's a fight between unions and the Government, not between the unions and the council, and while we never condone taking industrial action the Government has wasted opportunities to deal with the pension issue at every level, not least at local government level.
"One of our main concerns will be to clear the backlog of rubbish. There will be an extra refuse collection tomorrow for anyone who missed having their bin collected on strike day and we would encourage them to put their bins out then.
"We worked hard to keep the market open and councillors and managers worked to maintain essential services."
The unions have not yet named any further dates for industrial action.