The strike by the people who keep local services going every day continued into its second day in every town and city in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Classroom assistants, refuse collectors, admin workers, street sweepers, and other grades stopped work again.
The media, the BBC and the Daily Mail, has attempted to claim only 100,000 people were on strike – despite the BBC regional correspondent saying there were 70,000 on strike in Yorkshire and Humberside alone.
The reality is that the powerful local government strike remains solid, with more and more reports reaching Socialist Worker of solidarity action as refuse workers and teachers refuse to cross picket lines.
Overall, some 11,000 schools were closed across England and Wales. Up to 70 percent of schools in major cities outside London in England and Wales have been forced to close.
Rubbish collections across Dudley in the West Midlands stopped. The strike grounded Torpoint Ferry in Cornwall. Refuse workers in Hull who are members of the GMB union refused to cross picket lines so all refuse collections have stopped in the city.
In response, there are a number of reports of intimidation by management and in some councils in London and the south west of England of hurried recruitment of agency workers to weaken the strike.
On the strike days there have been numerous rallies and marches up and down the country. In London around 1,200 marched, up to 500 marched through Nottingham, 1,000 in Bristol and Newcastle saw over 500 people protesting against low pay. On Thursday lunchtime over 60 workers marched through Brixton in south London. Part time workers from the children’s one o’clock clubs marched with housing workers. Delegations from the UCU and NUT unions joined them.
In Huddersfield around 200 rallied, the same number as in Sheffield. Over 100 Unison members gathered to march to the County Hall in Northampton. There were 300 in Leicester. More than 500 protesters attended a rally in Torquay, with another 250 demonstrating in Plymouth.
The strike closed all waste recycling centres in Merseyside, leisure centres in South Tyneside, and libraries in Wolverhampton. Refuse collections were cancelled in Kirklees and Wakefield as workers refused to cross picket lines. Street cleaning was halted in Coventry and Barnsley, and Derry airport shut in Northern Ireland as did Belfast Zoo.
In Manchester, 78 schools closed and 11 were partially shut, with nurseries, youth centres, the town hall, museums and libraries also hit. In Bristol, 42 schools closed while the city museum and art gallery were also shut. In Brighton, libraries, housing and planning offices, trading standards and social services were all shut.
Some 70 percent of schools in Cardiff closed, 75 percent in Newcastle and 50 percent in Leeds and Manchester. In Leeds around 30 schools are closed along with the main library and an assortment of community centres and recycling sites, while in Doncaster 70 percent of schools, which is 93, are closed.
Half of schools in Cheshire had closed. All of the nursery schools in Barnet, north London, are closed.
Many activists have been meeting this lunchtime to discuss the way forward and the need for further action.