HUNDREDS of local government workers across Hyndburn downed tools in support of Unison and Unite’s nationwide two-day pay dispute.
Up to 40 binmen protested outside their Willows Lane depot on Wednesday, while small picket lines were also set up outside Accrington Town Hall and the council’s Scaitcliffe House HQ.
Up to half of the borough’s schools were hit by striking staff – including classroom assistants and dinner ladies – and Spring Hill Community Primary School and The Hollins Technology College were closed.
Libraries across the borough were shut, and a backlog of funerals at Accrington Cemetery was stacking up towards the end of the week.
Regional Unison officer Tim Ellis claimed that 80 per cent of council workers were striking.
He said: "I think most of the council services are closed down or fundamentally disrupted – bin collections won’t happen, street cleaning won’t happen, the benefits office will be shut, the Town Hall will be shut."
Wednesday’s bin collection was moved to today (Friday) while Thursday’s was postponed to Monday, with recycling collections put back by a fortnight.
Mr Ellis added that park services, social services, housing services and even cemeteries had been hit – although pre-planned burials would go ahead.
A spokesman for Hynd-burn Funeral Services said: "We have been able to work around the two days that they’re on strike but I understand that it’s going to be an extremely busy day on Friday. Some people might have had to delay funerals but fortunately the cemetery manager is working which allows us to still book them."
The unions voted for industrial action on Wednes-day and Thursday in protest at a 2.45 per cent pay offer for some of the country’s lowest- paid workers.
Lancashire County Coun-cil pledged to keep essential services running during the period, operating a reduced customer service centre and advising school headteachers and governors how best to respond to the strike.
Nationwide, public sector employers claimed 300,000 union members had joined the 48-hour action but the unions put the figure at more like 500,000.
Unison North West regional secretary Frank Hont said the planned turnout was a reflection of members’ anger.
He said: "The employers can well afford to come up with a better deal for our members. They are sitting on more than £11.5 billion in council reserves – which have doubled since 2004.
"Councils in England had to make £3 billion in efficiency savings by 2007-08 – they made more than double that.
"These savings have been made possible thanks to the hard work and commitment of our members, yet bosses are telling them they can’t afford to improve the current offer on the table."