TEACHERS, firefighters, civil servants and council staff are due to take part in a national strike today (Thursday.
The action is expected to cause severe disruption to many public services, with at least 18 schools across the borough closed.
They are joined on the picket line by staff from five leisure centres in Croydon, who are striking in a row over pay with Fusion Lifestyle, which runs the services for the council.
Members of Unite, the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and Unison have planned the walkout in protest over pay, pensions and working conditions.
Parents have been urged to check whether schools are shut, partially open or operating as normal.
London Fire Commissioner Rob Dobson warned residents against complacency as the London Fire Brigade will be operating a reduced service between 10am and 7pm, with only 27 engines covering the whole of the city.
Laurie Pocock, Croydon branch secretary of Unison, who represent some 1,300 council workers, warned the public sector pay freeze meant the council's workforce were struggling to afford to live in the borough.
He said: "The strike is because our pay has been held back for three or four years now and effectively we have had a pay reduction of about 18 per cent all told.
"Our members feel that they want to do the best for Croydon in terms of providing adequate services."
A Croydon Council spokesman said it was working hard to avoid disruption to services.
He said: "Whilst the council can sympathise with any employees who have felt the pressure of rising prices we must bear in mind the financial pressure which has been placed on the council over recent years and our wider responsibility for the welfare of local residents on a day-to-day basis.
"This is why our first priority must be to protect the operation of council services for the most vulnerable members of society.
"If there is any significant disruption we will post details on the council website and via social media."
Purley, Thornton Heath, Waddon, New Addington and South Norwood leisure centres are affected by the strike. Fusion has said the centres will remain open with minimum disruption.
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