Striking support staff close schools across the country

HUNDREDS of schools were forced to close on Wednesday as caretakers, teaching assistants, dinner ladies and other support staff joined the first national strike by council workers since the 1979 winter of discontent.

Their union, Unison, is seeking a 6 per cent pay rise. It claims more than 270,000 of its members earn less than pound;5 an hour. Graham Lane, Labour education chairman of the Local Government Association, said the fact that the summer term was ending anyway may have persuaded some heads to break up a day or two early.

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