Thousands march in Dorset strike demonstrations

Thousands of public sector workers and their families turned out in Dorset to protest against planned changes to their pensions.

The union members took part in mass rallies and marches through Bournemouth and Dorchester.

The one-day walkout closed 106 schools, a further 17 were partially open and 44 remained unaffected, the county council said.

All but one of Bournemouth's 38 schools had closed.

Poole lifting bridge, which connects Poole with Hamworthy, was able to open when enough staff turned up.

The council said if staff did not arrive for the evening shift, the bridge would be closed from 19:00 GMT until midnight. Drivers will face a journey of up to six miles (10km) around Holes Bay.

Bournemouth Council said its refuse and recycling services had been halved on strike day and that anyone who did not get their bins collected should put them out on Saturday.

Waste collections in Poole were cancelled.

Dorset Police confirmed members of its staff, including control room employees and community support officers, were taking part in the strike.

Day centres across the county operated a reduced service.

Workers across the UK were striking over government plans to make them pay more and work longer to earn their pensions.

Steve Sharp, who works in Blandford and took part in strike action, said: "I think it's fair pensions for everybody, not just for public service workers.

But single mother of four, Ellie Hallmark from Poole said: "Striking teachers are preventing hard-working parents from going to work.

"Teachers who strike not only disrupt a child's education but they also endanger the jobs of parents across the UK."

'Minimum disruption'

Poole council's strategic director Jim Bright said: "This is a national day of industrial action over changes to the pension system for public sector employees.

"The unions expect that many of their members will be taking industrial action, but we are doing everything possible to keep disruption to services for local residents to an absolute minimum."

Image caption About 1,000 public sector workers gathered in Dorchester to strike

Other facilities closed included Dorset History Centre in Dorchester and the blood donation session in Bridport was cancelled.

Boscombe, Bournemouth and Castlepoint libraries were closed - the remainder of Bournemouth's libraries are normally closed on Wednesdays.

Staff at Christchurch Borough Council, North Dorset District Council, Purbeck District Council, West Dorset District Council and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council also walked out.

Residents were asked to avoid contacting their council for anything other than urgent business.

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