Town hall services in Barking and Dagenham could be put in jeopardy by threatened walkout

Council services in Barking and Dagenham from refuse collections to schools could be disrupted if a pension dispute results in a nationwide strike this month.

Members of Unison – which represents public sector workers – voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action which could lead to the biggest co-ordinated action since the “winter of discontent” in 1979.

Out of a turnout of 29 per cent, 78 per cent – or 245,358 – voted in favour of a walkout on November 30, while 70,253 voted against.

Members of the largest unions among Barking and Dagenham Council employees, GMB and Unite, are expected to ballot on whether to join a co-ordinated strike with Unison, next week.

Greta Farian, Unison regional organiser, said: “Although we are pleased that the government seems to be making some sort of movement we have had nothing formal from them.”

The government last week promised that those close to retirement should not have to face any changes at all.

Ms Farian added: “It’s still not sufficient to address the long-term prospects of government pension schemes.

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“A view will be taken by the unions at congress level as to how we may take further action.”

She said this would affect the work of council employees “right across the board”, from refuse collectors, to teaching assistants in schools, social workers and homecare workers.

Probation officers, NHS staff and clerical staff in schools, colleges and in the police force, excluding police officers, could also be affected.

A council spokesman said: “The council has received notification on the upcoming strike.

“It has already started the planning necessary to ensure that essential services are maintained and people within the borough remain well-informed about potential impacts on other services, including schools.”

The government wants to lower pensions and raise the retirement age in order to meet the rising cost of pension by making public sector workers pay higher contributions. It also wants to link pensions to the CPI index of inflation.which would leave pensioners far worse off than under the current RPI.