Sutton swing bridge walkout

Workers at the Cross Keys swing bridge at Sutton Bridge, a major route in and out of Lincolnshire, will begin strike action from midnight tonight. The bridge keepers will walk out at one minute past twelve and will not return until a week later.

The action follows a unanimous vote by members of the public service union Unison in favour of industrial action after Lincolnshire County Council proposed pay cuts for the workers.

The bridge carries the A17 over the River Nene and swings open to allow river traffic to pass under it to the port of Wisbech a few times a week.

We don't just open the bridge. Ten per cent of the job is opening the bridge. The other 90% is maintaining it to a high and reliable standard so that the service is available on demand. Bridge breakdowns are very rare. This does not happen by accident. Any breakdown of the bridge can cause havoc to either road users, river users or both. All of us are skilled people in engineering and need knowledge of hydraulic and electrical systems. We also have to be trained radio operators. It is the bridge operators who are always the first port of call when it goes wrong. **

– Tom Street, Bridge keeper and UNISON Steward