Socialist Worker

South West England London public sector strike reports, 16 July

Issue No. 2110

Pickets in Bristol (Pic: Simon Guy)

Pickets in Bristol (Pic: Simon Guy)



Cornwall

Determined strikers picketed the entrances to New County Hall and Old County Hall, two major local government workplaces in Truro, from 7.30am.

At the Old County Hall, several members of the public gladly accepted Unison leaflets and at least one person joined the union.

Pickets were buoyed by news from Penzance of a 98 percent turnout on strike and of picket lines at various schools in the region including Launceston and Helston Community Colleges.

The frustration among workers over the derisory pay offer was evident. Several pickets mentioned the soaring prices of basic goods as being a motivating factor. Unison was set to hold a lunchtime picnic in Truro for strikers and their families from across the county.

Matt Bradbury


Plymouth

Strikers from the Unison and Unite unions picketed council workplaces and schools throughout Plymouth. Union activists were generally pleased with the support with many members staying away.

Even workers belonging to the GMB union – who were not on strike – expressed support for the strike and dropped money into collection buckets for the hardship fund, many expressing disappointment that their union had not voted for the strike.

Pickets received messages of support and gifts of doughnuts from PCS and CWU union branches keen to show solidarity across the public sector.

Patrick Ryan from Plymouth Pensioners Forum came along to offer his support. He was thrilled to support the strike and see a new generation of young trade union activists staffing the picket lines

There was a tremendous protest at the Ballard House building where a very vocal and colourful group of strikers handed out leaflets, blew horns and whistles and enjoyed the answering beeps of support from passing motorists.

It’s not surprising we had such a solid response from Ballard House as that’s where the council’s call centre staff work and they are among our lowest paid members. We are really pleased with the turnout from Unison members.

I must also congratulate Unite for bringing their workers out on the Torpoint ferry – Cornwall is just that little bit more remote today.

A march and rally were planned later in the morning and a lobby of government treasury minister Yvette Cooper when she visits Plymouth during the second day of the strike.

Jeremy Guise, communications officer, Plymouth Unison


Bristol

Unison steward, Rob Angus, said, 'There is a strong show of solidarity today. Unison and Unite union members are working closely together.

“We are on strike to protect our living standards. Low pay and poor pay offers are not just a problem for local government workers. It is a problem right across the public sector. We support those workers who stand up and fight for better pay and living conditions, including the teachers and civil servants.

“We must stand together to defend our pay.'

Steve Panes is the full-time convenor of Unite for Bristol city council. He told Socialist Worker that the money is there to pay council workers a decent wage.

“Councils have made efficiency savings totalling £3 billion,” he said. “They’ve done that by cutting jobs and working people harder. They’re getting more out of us – but we’re not being remunerated to reflect that.”

Steve thought the action should escalate, with more industrial action over periods longer than two days. “People feel that they have no choice but to make a stand. We’re trying to coordinate action for September with other unions,” he added.

Phil Jones


Somerset

Somerset county and Taunton Deane council striking employees made their anger at the pathetic pay offer at a march and rally today in Taunton.

Traffic was at a standstill as over 200 staff chanted and marched through the county town from the borough council offices to County Hall where a lively rally took place.

Patricia Rowe

Strikers in Cornwall

Strikers in Cornwall



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