Public sector workers held well attended strike rallies up and down the country today as part of their campaign against Gordon Brown’s public sector wage freeze.
The rallies were put on by tteacehrs in the NUT union, often ontly organising with college lecturers in the UCU union and civil service workers in the PCS union.
London saw a 10,000 strong united march organised jointly by the NUT, UCU and PCS. It left Lincoln Fields in the city centre and ended in a packed rally at Westminster Central Hall, just outside the Houses of Parliament.
The rally was addressed by TUC general secretary Brendan Barber who condemned the fact that after more than ten years of a Labour government, low pay, casualisation and massive workloads are still blighting the public sector.
‘The government will pay a devastating price come a general election if it doesn’t change course,’ he warned.
Christine Blower, acting general secretary of the NUT, spoke about how the strike had ‘caught the mood of our members’. She attacked media for its skewed portrayal of the strike, adding that teachers were proud to be standing up for a decent education system.
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS, attacked Gordon Brown’s abolition of the 10 percent income tax band, adding that many low paid civil service workers had been hit by the measure.
But he noted that the fact the government had been forced to back down over the issue shows they can change policy when pressure is applied.
He added, to cheers from the audience, that ‘next time it shouldn’t just be three unions on strike, it should be a dozen or twenty – we need to do this again and again and again and again.’
Dave Prentis, general secretary of the Unison public sector workers’ union, sent a message from Unison stating that it was fully behind the action, and paying tribute to Steve Sinnott, the late general secretary of the NUT.
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the UCU, said she felt proud visiting picket lines and talking to lecturers on strike. She also called on the action to be broadened out, arguing that every public sector union should joining the strikes.
The mood of the rally was spirited and militant, with the room erupting in applause at every mention of further industrial action.
Kevin Courtney from the NUT executive said, ‘Every Labour MP will have been shaken by the fact that teachers are happy to be on strike – now we need more strike action.’
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