Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/12329

Posted on 30 June 2011 at 22:34 GMT

Reports of massive 30 June public sector pensions strike

"We need other unions, all the public sector, to come out together"


PCS on the 30 June pensions strike

PCS on the 30 June public sector pensions strike: interview with Mark Serwotka and a striking PCS Cabinet Office worker.

Tower Hamlets, east London

Pickets at Cityside NINO (national insurance office) in Tower Hamlets were in fighting mood: "Members are fed up. We're being asked to work longer and pay more to get less.

We agreed pensions in 2007, now the government is trying to go back on their word. There's no consultation, they just want to force it through".

Another picket said: "Our colleagues are losing their jobs but all the work is still there for us to do".

Other comments from pickets were: "The media talk about how our pension is good, but our pension is based on our salary. They want to take 3% out of 20,000, I can't survive on that" and, "How do I pay my mortgage if I have to pay more for my pension? We didn't cause this crisis.

"Unfortunately the Con-Dem government has taken Labour's pension review and is using it".

This strike on pensions reached a new layer of workers, in an office which has taken action several times over the last few years. One staff member who had worked there for nine years without joining the union came in to work saying she couldn't afford to strike, but after hearing how much she would stand to lose if the Con-Dems' plans go ahead she joined the union and went home.

Naomi Byron

Plymouth

Plymouth witnessed one of the city's largest protests in many years with over 500 striking workers and supporters joining together in a rally and march through the city centre.

The PCS, ATL, NUT, UCU and solidarity shown from eight other unions, clearly showed to the government that working class people are not prepared to accept brutal cuts to their pensions and working conditions.

More than 140 schools were closed or disrupted across the county. Picket lines were set up around the city with PCS members reporting more striking workers than their strike last year.

The morning started off with the teachers' pension strike and rally at the Plymouth Albion Rugby Football Club. Members of ATL, NUT and UCU listened to keynote speakers.

UCU spokesperson Steve Allen told members: "This is not a pension reform, it's a cut in our wages!"

The teaching unions then marched down to the Guildhall, to meet with striking workers from the PCS. Plymouth Socialist Party members were represented in both the NUT and UCU striking unions.

The march through the city was greeted with support from the general public by outbreaks of spontaneous applause from people lining the streets. The working class people of Plymouth showed wonderful support to their fellow striking workers.

We are now campaigning to make sure 30th June is just the start!

Steve Merritt

Southern region update

Oxford saw a demonstration of over 1,000. In Aylesbury 50 prison officers held a lunchtime protest and 30 attended the Bucks Save our Services rally in the evening.

Over 1,000 rallied in Portsmouth with speakers from the PCS and NUT.

There was an angry mood at the government's attacks on pensions with many non-striking unions there in solidarity. Socialist Party leaflets were well received.


Account of a Telford lecturer

On Thursday 30 June I took part in strike action for the second time this year. For me, like many other lecturers around the country, I had no alternative but to fight for my pension and against the onslaught of attacks faced in education.

The college I work at has already faced 4 million in cuts over the last two years, students are being turned away because there are fewer places on the Higher Education course the college runs and cuts in the EMA mean many students will financially struggle in the new term.

For many lecturers who joined our picket line on the day this was only the start of the fight to defend our living standards for our old age.

Throughout the week UCU members at the college held activities to explain what the cuts to our pensions would mean. Leaflets were dropped around the staff rooms and discussions were held explaining these attacks were politically motivated to defend the rich and their banker friends.

We had set up calculators to show how much lecturers at the college would be set to lose. Many lecturers in their 30s and 40s were estimated to lose between 200,000 and 300,000 in their pensions.

On the day of the strike many supported the picket line (on both strike occasions the college had the biggest picket line in its history). Those who went into work from other unions came out during the day to show their support by providing food and refreshments.

A leaflet was put out explaining that the 30 June strike was a spring board for a much larger day of coordinated strike action in the autumn - this was very well received.

Discussions of alternatives and socialism took place on the picket line and 11 'Socialist' newspapers were sold.

Later on in the day a demonstration and rally took place in Telford which was joined by many public sector workers, teachers and lecturers in PCS, NUT, UCU and ATL.

National Shop Steward Network leaflets calling for trades union activists to link up with communities under attack were given out and very well received.

As one person commented: "This is the only way we can beat the Coalition propaganda, by winning the hearts and minds and uniting with ordinary working people".

Both myself and a Youth Fight For Jobs campaigner, Sam Morecroft, had pieces on the local BBC radio calling for a coordinated general strike to stop this government.

These reports were repeated throughout the day and the next morning.

To those among the Labour leadership - like Ed Miliband - who believe the strike is wrong, my reply is this: "Is it wrong to fight against poverty in my old age? Is it wrong to fight against cuts in education? Is it wrong to fight for no cuts to EMA for the students I teach? I had no alternative, I either stood for something - my pension and my future, or I fell for nothing, no pension and to live my old age in poverty.

"I choose to stand and fight."

Peter Grue, Chair UCU Telford College

Mansfield

I and another comrade visited a picket line of PCS members at the Jobcentreplus, Hill House, Mansfield, which is threatened with closure. There were 8-10 pickets, a few more than usual.

We leafleted and sold papers. Some showed interest in our public meeting next Wednesday.

Many workers stayed at home for the day, and those who crossed the picket line were largely management.

There was strong support for more industrial action in the autumn and optimism that we could see four million on strike.

Later, we went to Chesterfield, where we joined a march and then a rally of about 200 people in the market square, mainly from teaching unions including ATL and UCU.

Some onlookers clapped as we marched past.

As one of the speakers at the rally, a Unite rep, said: "We need to stand together and fight to retain the terms and conditions that people have fought for over generations to achieve".

Again, there was much backing for the idea of further action in the autumn, as many felt the government is not listening to their concerns.

Karen Seymour

PCS strike in Cabinet Office

Ten PCS members from the Government Digital Service (where the strike was strongly supported by nearly 80% of union members), part of Cabinet Office, were involved in organising and running two picket lines; one outside Hercules House in Lambeth North and another outside 70 Whitehall, the main entrance to Cabinet Office where Francis Maude works.

The dissatisfaction of staff is shown by the fact that this was the first time in the last five years that PCS members from Cabinet Office organised and ran the picket line outside the main entrance to their department.

Luana, a PCS member, said: 'Ordinary members who came out on strike feel attacked on all fronts by their minister and the Prime Minister. We face misinformation in the media that is circulated to vilify ordinary civil servants who are working hard to do their jobs properly. We think now is the time to stand up for your rights.'


London rally

Following the biggest strike demonstration in London in a generation, 3,000 people managed to get into the London rally to be addressed by fighting speeches from the general secretaries of the four striking trade unions.

Over half the people in the rally were on strike for the first time.

Mark Serwotka of the PCS described the massive impact of the strike on the civil service. Government minister Frances Maude had said nobody would support these strikes and no one would notice because public sector workers don't do much that's useful.

Yet 85% of PCS members were on strike. 90% of all civilian police were on strike; 92% in the Department for Work and Pensions.

Jurors had been sent home because judges cancelled sessions. There were even PCS members bravely on strike at Downing Street itself! Mark called on Unison, Unite and the GMB to join in a coordinated strike of 4 million in October.

"They thought we wouldn't do it" said Mary Bousted of the ATL. Breaking from the union's 127 years of never going on strike, she explained that unions are about more than individual services and that collective action can win.

But she got the biggest response of the afternoon when she described Ed Miliband's response to the strike as "a disgrace". The auditorium thundered with prolonged applause as masses of teachers, lecturers and civil servants rose to their feet.

The audience gave a rapturous reception to new young teachers and civil servants. One new teacher explained that the government had closed the golden hello scheme - "My golden hello is minus 200,000." The new teachers described a 70-hour working week, paying off their student debt for ten years longer, working longer, paying an extra 900 per year for their pension - all to get 25% less pension when they retire.

50% of teachers quit in the first five years.

One said: "I wouldn't have described myself as a political person before, but the government is forcing me to find my voice, and it's getting louder."

Socialist Party member Lee Vernon spoke for PCS young members. The audience cheered as he described the idea of raising the retirement age when there is mass youth unemployment as "madness".

He referred to the student movement late last year as a wakeup call to the power of mass movements, and pointed to the youth movement alongside strike action in Greece and Spain.

"However, this is not enough. Come the autumn we want to see students and young people on every picket, in every anti-cuts campaign and on every strike committee.

We need to unite the students, young workers and the unemployed, go beyond pensions and speak more about defending our schools, universities and public services."

PCS is supporting Youth Fight for Jobs and building for the October Jarrow march.

"To those young people in unions who are not out on strike today, you need to be asking why they aren't fighting alongside us now and they had better be out in the future... We need a one day public sector strike as the next stage and the TUC needs to play a role in coordinating this."

Paula Mitchell

Liverpool march through city centre

Jointly organised by the teachers' unions and the PCS, more than 3,000 Merseyside public sector staff joined a Liverpool march against pension changes.

Around 300 Merseyside schools closed and hundreds more only partially opened as teacher members of the National Union of Teachers and Association of Teachers and Lecturers turned out in force for their national strike.

Placard-waving teachers, the majority of whom had never demonstrated before, staged a march from St John's Gardens to The Blackie, in Chinatown. They were protesting at plans to increase their pension contributions and raise the retirement age.

Many of the teachers, who were joined for the protest by workers from sectors as diverse as the North West Ambulance Service to job centres, warned that making them work until 68 would see them "burn out".

The march was greeted by enthusiastic public applause from the pavements as it passed through Queens Square, Lime Street and Renshaw Street in the city centre.

Teachers and public supporters chanted and sounded whistles as the city's streets became a sea of banners bearing "Fair Pensions for All" slogans. The mood was total opposition to all cuts, with pensions being the central feature.

Speakers included Chris Baugh, PCS Assistant General Secretary and Socialist Party member, who received a standing ovation for a speech in which he exposed the corruption of capitalism and demanded action against the bankers who had created the crisis.

The message was clear from all the speakers: 'Let the Con-Dems be warned, this is just the beginning'

Tony Muhearn

PCS strike "strongest ever" in Scotland

Reports from Ian Leech, Jim McFarlane, Jimmy Haddow and Philip Stott

Thursday's magnificent strike action by hundreds of thousands of public sector workers across the UK was an inspiration. Although in Scotland only the PCS was taking strike action, its members responded in a way that was unprecedented.

Again and again throughout the day PCS members commented that this was their best supported strike ever.

In total almost 30,000 PCS members took action in Scotland from the Shetland Islands to Dumfries. There were more PCS members on strike, more pickets, more workplaces picketed, than in previous strike action and their mood was universal: "we will not accept these attacks".

So solid was the action at the MoD at Faslane naval base that marines from York had to be transported to the west of Scotland to cover for striking PCS members.

PCS members in office after office told us that many had joined the union in the run up to 30 June so they could take part in the strike. Significantly there was more active participation by PCS members than before.

Socialist Party Scotland members who are active in PCS played an important role in making the strike a success. Socialist Party Scotland members also visited dozens of picket lines across Scotland.

We brought support and solidarity and distributed our leaflet calling for a 24-hour public sector general strike and sold copies of our paper the Socialist.

Young people distributed Youth Fight for Jobs leaflets to the PCS young members calling for united struggle of young people and workers against the cuts.

Dundee

Pickets were out in force across Dundee. All the main civil service workplaces had well-organised picket lines that received great support and solidarity from other workers and the wider public.

PCS reps reported solid support from their members with over 1,500 members out on strike in the city from DWP, HMRC, Inland Revenue, Jobcentres and the courts.

A lunchtime city centre rally attracted hundreds of PCS members and other public sector workers to hear a range of speakers including local Unison branches, the Trades Council and the Dundee Pensioners Forum give their support and solidarity to those taking part in the action.

A number of local PCS reps explained how this strike was so important to defend their pensions and jobs. They highlighted that it is women workers in particular, who already suffer from the lowest pensions.

A new union rep from the courts reported that when he started working there a few months ago there were only a handful of union members. Due to this attack on pensions and other cutbacks the PCS now has a union density of over 90% in that workplace who were all out on strike, many for the first time.

As a number of speakers highlighted, today was just the start in what needs to be a determined battle to force the Con-Dem government to back down and protect pensions and public services.

The demand put forward for a one-day public sector general strike by the Socialist Party was well received.

Glasgow

Glasgow's George Square was a sea of colour as around 1,500 PCS strikers, trade unionists and anti-cuts campaigners rallied in support of the civil service union's day of strike action.

Public sector workers came out for their lunch break to take part in the rally.

Workers from the NHS, local government and teachers showed their solidarity. Banners from Unite, Unison, EIS, FBU and PCS mingled with local campaigns from 'Defend Glasgow Services', 'Save the Accord Centre' and the 'Free Hetherington' occupation.

A number of speakers from the trade union movement explained about the vicious cuts and attacks on pensions being unleashed by the coalition government.

Graeme Smith, Scottish TUC general secretary brought a message of solidarity and support from the STUC to the PCS members in recognition of their stand against the attacks.

Mike Kirby, Unison Scottish secretary, delivered a message of support and spoke of the reality of the affects of these attacks on the welfare state. To cheers he reiterated Unison's intention to ballot for industrial action in the autumn when Unison members would stand shoulder to shoulder on the picket lines with PCS members.

Many Unison members in workplaces across Scotland have been asking why they were not striking alongside the PCS. Janice Godrich, PCS president and a Socialist Party member described the attacks as 'pension robbery' and poured scorn on the idea that the negotiations have been meaningful or productive.

"Just because you are sitting in the same room does not make it negotiations", she said. She explained that the government minister, Francis Maude, with his multi-million pound fortune, recently caught fiddling his expenses, had no intention of negotiation.

"It's the same old Tories, remember them?"

Janice described the attacks as being ideologically driven and said that the Tories' plan is to privatise as much of the welfare state as possible. To huge applause she also referred to the unwanted intervention of the Labour Leader Ed Miliband who had called for MPs to cross picket lines, saying that this was "a disgrace" and further evidence that Labour is no longer a party that supports workers.

Janice also called for the trade union movement to step up its response after the summer and prepare for a massive coordinated day of strike action in the autumn.

Scottish Anti-Cuts Alliance meeting

Following the Glasgow PCS rally a very successful Scottish Anti-Cuts Alliance (SACA) meeting took place which was chaired by PCS NEC member Derek Thomson and addressed by Janice Godrich and Brian Smith, Glasgow Unison branch secretary.

Well over 50 PCS members attended the meeting and heard the case for building towards a 24-hour strike across the public sector against the cuts. SACA was set-up in January this year on a platform of building support for a mass campaign against all cuts and for the setting of 'no cuts, needs budgets'.

Brian Smith applauded the magnificent strike action by PCS, which was an "inspiration to all of us in the public sector". Brian also condemned the SNP Scottish government's statements that PCS members should effectively "get back to work".

The SNP have shown they are no friends of striking trade unionists and are at one with Miliband's Labour Party in abandoning workers. PCS Scotland plays an active role in SACA as do Scotland's two largest Unison branches, Glasgow City and Glasgow and Clyde NHS Unison.

Edinburgh

On Thursday evening 80 people attended an Edinburgh Anti-Cuts Alliance meeting called in solidarity with the PCS strike and heard PCS members explain the impact of their strike.

All in all the PCS strike day was extremely successful and has created a reference point for other workers moving into struggle against cuts.


Rally and march in Powys

Over sixty strikers joined a rally and march in Llandrindod Wells, Powys. Powys is the largest and most thinly populated county in England and Wales, with no big towns, so a rally of this size, with people coming from over fifty miles away, shows the depth of feeling on the pensions issue.

Swansea rally. photo Wales Socialist Party

Swansea rally. photo Wales Socialist Party   (Click to enlarge)

Speakers from NUT, ATL and PCS described their union members' anger at the attack on their pensions and working conditions. A trade unionist from Remploy reminded people that this was only part of the government's attack on working people and on people with disabilities.

Many schools were closed, particularly a majority of Secondary Schools where staff are angered at the council's money-saving plan to shut many sixth forms and force pupils to travel even more miles for sixth form education.

There was general agreement that the battle is only beginning and that there is a need to set up Powys Against the Cuts to fight the attacks on our jobs and services.

Geoff Jones (UCU, retired)

PCS rep on the picket line during the 30 June pensions strike speaks to the Socialist Party

June 30th Pensions Strike: PCS rep in Canning Town on the PCS picket line speaks to Hannah Sell

Two strike meetings for the price of one in Surrey!

By Paul Couchman, secretary, Surrey County Council Trade Union Group (in a personal capacity)

"Camberley has never seen anything like this before" said Ted Truscoe from the NUT as a human stream of mainly young people with balloons, flags and banners marched around the town centre on their way to a rally at Camberley Theatre.

There were placards and banners from NUT, UCU, ATL, PCS and Unison and the new Save Our Services in Surrey (SOSiS) banner. At least six Unison activists (myself included) had taken the day off as annual leave or TOIL so we could be there.

Every other car hooted their support as they drove by and workers cheered from office windows and shop doors all along the route.

When we arrived at the rally, I was taken aside (as I was chairing the rally) and told we would have to do two sittings as the hall only holds 140 and we had over 300 outside! All this from an organising meeting attended by a handful of reps from the striking unions hosted by SOSiS only a few days before.

In the two rallies, all the speakers were local leaders from the striking unions, many of whom had never done anything like this before. Every call for further action got thunderous applause and the mood was certainly there for an even bigger, wider, public sector strike in the autumn school term.

Every speaker called for the other unions to come on board. As secretary of Surrey County Council Trade Unions (SCCTU) I was proud to be invited to chair these historic meetings which I believe mark the start of the rebirth of the trade union and labour movement in the Surrey area.

I said: "As branch secretary of Unison I feel frustrated at not actually being able to strike alongside the other unions today but I look forward to balloting our members soon so we can be part of this fantastic movement to defend pensions and fight this vicious and cowardly government".

I called on all the strikers present: "Don't just go home from today and back to work to do nothing till the next strike day - get organised, become active in your union, get political and challenge the status quo".

The previous night saw an eve-of-strike rally organised by the Redhill Anti-Cuts Group, where I had spoken alongside strikers from NUT and UCU.

A representative from Reigate and Banstead Unison was at the meeting and she told us: "My phone hasn't stopped ringing from members wanting to know why we are not striking tomorrow!"

On the morning of the strike I went with fellow Socialist Party members, Annie (also from Unison) and Alan (from the POA) to support the PCS picket line at Woking Tax Office.

By 10 o'clock there were 25 of us on the picket line and then we were joined by even more PCS pickets from the job centre up the road. A Royal Mail van pulled up and the postman jumped out of his van, strolled up to us and said 'solidarity comrades' and punched the air. By 12pm we had jumped into our cars and headed for Camberley.

Bearing in mind a previous Saturday demonstration in Woking against the cuts had been 150 strong, we were thinking there would be 50-100 turning out on a weekday strike action demonstration.

There were six times our lowest estimate!

Whilst on the PCS picket line I asked a couple of strikers for a few words for the Socialist:

Thelma Snelgrove - deputy branch secretary of PCS Woking HMRC branch:

"I'm here with my members representing PCS because I believe there is an alternative to cuts. We should be investing in public services to help the economy to grow.

"There is a 120 billion tax gap to be collected. If there was the resources and the staff to collect these taxes we wouldn't have to make the cuts.

"The government would have the public believe that our pensions are gold plated but the average pension in the civil service is 4,000. The government continues to inflate this figure by including the pensions of senior civil servants and permanent secretaries.

"The strike here is probably 75% solid (we won't know exactly till tomorrow). There is a strong and confident mood for action.

"When workers join the civil service they accept low salaries because of the pension scheme and the civil service compensation schemes but the government are trying to unilaterally change our contracts in the race to the bottom.

"If the government doesn't listen we need further action in the autumn with a view to wider public sector national strikes."

Mike Briggs, branch secretary from the same branch added: "There are many people here striking this time who have never taken action before".

Rosa Briggs, branch chair of the Surrey DWP branch of PCS said: "We are standing against all the cuts - basically to protect our welfare state and to fight for jobs and services.

"Our members support the campaign. Some members who have never been out before are on strike.

"The pensions issue has moved them to take action - previously they have crossed picket lines. I think the rest of the unions need to be united and ballot their members to join this strike campaign.

"Today has been excellent.

"So many members of the public have supported us, honking their car horns, smiling, waving and giving us the thumbs up!"

Alan Guest, branch chair of the Prison Officers Association (POA) at Send Prison, Woking, had taken the morning off work to support the picket and brought solidarity from the POA who were holding lunchtime protests around the country.


Lewisham college, south London

There were picket lines at both sites of Lewisham College. At both Lewisham and Deptford sites UCU pickets said they were disappointed that Unison members had not been called out and criticised Unison general secretary Dave Prentis for 'blowing hot and cold' on the need for action to end the threats to jobs and courses as well as pensions.

Most Deptford pickets were going to the London rally and march by river from Greenwich to Charing Cross. The number of people arriving by tube to the rally meant that Holborn tube station was closed for some time due to overcrowding.

Chris Newby

Streatham job centre

On 30 June the new organiser for Streatham job centre PCS reported that out of a workforce of 140, in the previous strike 60 went into work, yet on 30 June only 30 went in.

For those who did go in, the vast majority are single parents who felt that they couldn't afford to go on strike. The PCS branch is looking to develop a hardship fund to help get an even bigger turnout for strike action next time.

One of the job centre staff who did go in shouted out from an upstairs window saying how few people were in.


Scotland Yard PCS - interview on the picket line

"We've had limited members on the picket line but most of the members are coming on the march. We have recruited 20 new members to the union branch through the pensions campaign and 10 just yesterday.

The picket is having an effect, we turned one person home so far and been getting a lot of good publicity. We want to see Unison out too.

We are being supported by the public generally and have given out loads of our leaflets. We are overall optimistic and picketing a building like this (Scotland Yard) gives the campaign even more publicity.

We are looking forward to the march and rally. I think we need more strike action as it's difficult to get 'work to rule' to work.

Strike action has more of an effect anyway. We would also like to see more joint action with other public sector unions and the RMT, as getting coordinated public sector unions going out at the same time is the key.

I support what the NEC and Mark Serwotka are doing, we can't just wait for the other unions to take action.

We need to work on getting more members to vote in internal elections and ballots however in order to try and engage the membership and defeat any apathy especially given the threats to balloting laws."

Stefan Seddon, branch sec of Scotland Yard branch PCS

West Mids update:

200 rallied in Wolverhampton in the morning before some went to Birmingham

120 in Shrewsbury

Up to 500 in Telford


Chester: trade unionism in Tory town

Around 2-300 people attended a rally in Tory Chester, in what is the largest trade union demonstrations for over 20 years. Speakers from the striking unions explained the details of the assault on pensions and Unison, the CWU and the FBU also joined the rally to show solidarity.

The Socialist Party stall was a hive of activity and the Socialist Party speaker was very well received as the points of a 24-hour public sector strike and the Jarrow march were brought up.

Alec Price

Suffolk: round one to the strikers!

Well over 500 teachers and civil servants marched and rallied on 30 June and were cheered and applauded through the streets of Ipswich.

The march was led by a coffin on a bike in which sat a white-haired and wrinkled teacher, with the words printed on the coffin:

'Good morning, class, I am your new teacher today!' highlighting the increased number of years a teacher will need to work in order to get a full pension.

The unity and fraternal nature of the march was another feature and at the rally afterwards, speakers from all the striking unions remarked on this and said: "this is the music of the future".

The teachers' somewhat-unexpected 'secret weapons' - Tory ministers Michael Gove and Francis Maude - scored spectacular own goals over the previous weekend with their clumsy attempts to break the strike.

There was no doubt that the Suffolk public's perception of the well-publicised day of industrial action, had swung massively over to the teachers by Monday morning, when Socialist Party members leafleted in the town centre.

PCS members, who have borne the brunt of government attacks in recent years, were, in particular, encouraged by this. A local PCS HMRC branch secretary said he had the best turnout ever in Ipswich and his national executive member drew the loudest applause from the rally when she clearly outlined the disgraceful role being played by the Con-Dem government in making the public sector pay for the bankers' reckless behaviour.

This theme was also reflected by the march's most popular chant: "Cameron and Clegg hear what we say - Make the greedy bankers pay!"

So, locally and nationally, Round One to the strikers! Members leaving the rally and signing the NUT's petition for better pensions across the state and private sectors were in high spirits, talking about and already preparing themselves for Round 2.

Roger MacKay, Ipswich Socialist Party

Caerphilly: first ever call centre picket

PCS members in the Van Road DWP call centre face closure of their office in nine months time. They've been told that they will all be redeployed, but they have no idea how that will be possible with the cutbacks taking place.

Nevertheless, the mood was good on the picket line. This was the first picket ever mounted at the Caerphilly call centre.

They had heard stories from other DWP workplace picket lines and they had decided that this time they had to play their part.

Mariam Kamish

Merthyr Tydfil: workers and youth - unite and fight

Workers at the picket line at the DWP in Merthyr had the advantage of being in the high street, so they were kept busy by a constant flow of people supporting the dispute.

The pickets were in high spirits and they had come so well prepared that they looked as though they were ready to stay for weeks. There were two camera crews filming them, as they talked to the passersby and handed out leaflets and stickers, while their children - freed for picket duty because their teachers were on strike - waved banners in the background.

"He knows everything about this dispute", one worker said of her son. At a quarter past twelve, the pickets packed up and walked 150 yards down the road to the rally of about 200 in the Civic Centre, which had been organised by Merthyr Trades Council.

Royal Mail postal workers from the CWU, council workers from Rhondda Cynon Taff and Merthyr Unison and the GMB, Unite and UCATT members joined striking PCS, NUT and ATL members.

A number of school students had also come, some with their parents, others in groups of friends. Several gave their details and said they would like to come on the Youth Fight for Jobs march from Merthyr to Cardiff.

The response for the trade union speakers was warm and Jamie Davies from the Youth Fight for Jobs was interrupted by applause when he spoke. But when Dai Havard, the MP for Merthyr began to speak one teacher from Pontypridd tried to shut him up.

"What are you doing speaking?!" she shouted. "You don't support this strike! Ed Miliband doesn't support it! The Labour Party doesn't support it. "Get off."

The rest of the crowd stayed quiet, but there were quite a few nods of agreement. The clear feeling was - this is just the start.

We're going to fight this government and beat them.

Mariam Kamish

Bradford: best supported strike in years

From 7am Socialist Party members in Bradford were out supporting civil servants, lecturers and teachers taking strike action against the government's attacks on pensions.

We visited picket lines at the combined court, CPS office, both HMRC offices, all three DWP offices and Bradford College receiving a warm welcome at all of them.

The combined courts car park was virtually empty when it would usually be rapidly filling up, while at the Leeds Road DWP office pickets reported that hardly anyone had gone in, less than even the best supported strikes in recent years, possibly not enough to make up one team.

At the HMRC contact centre pickets estimated that around 90% of staff had stayed out. These impressions were confirmed further when we attended an over 200-strong teachers rally against the cuts at Valley Parade.

Several ATL speakers referred to a dislike of banners, placards and other things associated with protests and how they had consciously joined a union which didn't strike, but the pensions deal was a step too far for them resulting in today's historic action for them.

Several teachers singled out that the bankers who caused the economic crisis and the politicians who bailed them out have much higher pensions than the public sector workers they are expecting to bail them out.

Several young teachers spoke about how the pension cuts would affect them, in particular explaining how difficult it would be for them to purchase a house (one had even said she had given up on this).

Unfortunately one ATL speaker, while stating his unequivocal opposition to the pension attacks, said that it was necessary to make cuts in public sector spending relative to GDP.

This was taken up rapidly by the following speaker, Geraint Evans, branch secretary of the local UCU Community Education branch, putting forward the need to collect the tax dodged by large corporations and other alternative economic policies to the cuts.

He also went on to condemn the statement of Ed Miliband opposing the strike to massive applause. The entire meeting then marched into town to link up with PCS members and UCU members at Bradford College for a lunchtime rally with approximately 400 attending, the first outdoor strike day rally for sometime in Bradford, with speakers from all the striking unions including Joel Heyes of the PCS NEC.

Iain Dalton

Brighton Trades Council

A massive 4,000-strong turnout today in Brighton and solid strike action from PCS, NUT, ATL and UCU members.

We believe ours was the biggest march per head of population in the country!

See http://brightonhovesocialistparty.blogspot.com/2011/07/magnificent-4000-strong-demonstration.html for more information


Leeds: a successful strike day

Leeds was awash with public sector workers on picket lines at locations around the city including schools, colleges, universities, job centres, courts, tax office and several other workplaces.

At York Road jobcentre several union members on strike reported that management were playing the temporary staff off against permanent staff, giving indications that not going on strike would lead to the extension of temporary contracts, whereas at Park Place jobcentre there were four pickets and management were bussed in.

Kirkstall UK Border agency had nine on the picket line, while there was two at the probation office, and eight at HMRC where very few people crossed the picket lines.

The effect of the student movement last year and the hard work and determination of UCU showed in the numbers on the picket line at the university on strike in Leeds, with 15 at Leeds met, six at Broadcasting house, one at Leeds Technological college, 15 at Leeds City College Park Lane Campus.

Additionally 15 turned out at Leeds Trinity University College where members were discussing the bread and roses strike and fundraising events for the Jarrow Youth Fight for Jobs march.

At Wealston prison in nearby Wetherby 10-15 PCS members were on strike and a meeting followed later with 40 in attendance to discuss future actions. The British Library also had 8-11 on the picket lines.

Lecturers, teachers, students, civil servants and others assembled at Leeds Metropolitan University to march towards Leeds city square. The march was welcomed by the cheers of a several hundred strong crowd who had already gathered in the square, as well as the steel drum band which gave the crowd a positive and lively festival atmosphere in which to start the rally.

The rally closed with a local musician singing several songs reminiscent of the long history of the class struggle.

Hannah Bastow and Andy Smith, Leeds Socialist Party

See below for report of rally


Ystrad Mynach: 'I haven't seen any college lecturers messing around in the sub prime market'!

There were 25 on the gates at Ystrad Mynach College, with reps from every department in the college, a very determined set of workers. "It's the same old story", said Paul Ford, the UCU branch chair.

"The friends of the Tories cock up the economy and we're the ones who have to pay for it. I haven't seen any college lecturers messing around in the sub prime market.

"I also feel very angry that they always equate our pay with the appalling private sector pensions. What we should be doing as a trade union movement is fighting to raise conditions in the private sector".

The lecturers were very interested to find out about the Youth Fight for Jobs Jarrow March in October and the Merthyr to Cardiff march that will be taking place in August.

A number of them contributed to an appeal for support and a YFJ representative will be going back to speak to the branch. At 10.30am the entire picket line went off to Cardiff for the march and rally through the city centre.

Mariam Kamish

Warrington: real conviction

PCS pickets were out at Hilden House DWP and the Warrington Jobcentre, and also, for the first time in the last few years, at the tax office as well. There was real conviction among union members at the justness of their cause, and anger at the government spin of "gold plated" pensions.

The letters of support from the Trades Council were well-received and we hope to see some of these excellent trade unionists at the Trades Council in the future.

There were good pickets at the Risley prison and Appleton Young Offenders Institute where PCS members were to be joined by the POA for lunch time rallies.

Andy Ford, Warrington Trades Council

Exeter: workers understood the need for more united action in the autumn

The UCU, NUT, PCS and ATL strike was solid in Exeter. There were picket lines outside Exeter College, Exeter Prison, the HMRC office, Jobcentre Plus and a DWP call centre.

Striking ATL teachers from private schools even held a small picket.

Nova Gresham, regional official of the UCU explained the strike's importance on the picket lines when she said: "there are many bad things in this world, but to attack peoples' pensions and futures is really disgusting".

She further echoed many of the workers on strike when she explained: "we are meant to be part of a labour movement, but at the moment, only part of it is moving".

It is clear that although the mood was positive, workers understood the need for more united action in the autumn. A packed out rally followed the picket lines, where 500 people crammed in to hear speakers from all the unions, including Socialist Party member Jim Thomson, speak.

The main attraction however was Brendon Barber, who while certainly talking the talk about unity and action, fell short of calling for a 24-hour public sector general strike as Jim did.

The mood of the rally was electric, and the biggest applause came from any mention of further action if further negotiations fail. 700 people then marched in a lively demonstration up Exeter High Street, to a Festival for the Alternative, which featured music, including Billy Bragg, political stalls and great weather.

It is estimated that over 1,000 people were involved in either the rally, demo or festival. The Socialist Party made a great intervention, selling 33 papers and making four contacts.

Over 400 leaflets were handed out, while the Exeter Anti-Cuts Alliance, who helped build the event, also raised its standing.

UCU member, Exeter

Newcastle: buoyant and defiant

The local press reported that more than 40,000 public sector workers were on strike across the North East, and according to local ITV news 727 schools in the North East and Cumbria were hit.

At Longbenton, which has the largest concentration of public sector workers in Europe, it was reported that around 7,000 workers joined the strike.

Strikers leaving the picket line to join the lunchtime demo in Newcastle were applauded as they got on the metro!

The mood at the march and rally in Newcastle was buoyant and defiant, even the police were estimating over 2,000 participated.

One group of teachers told us they have been accused of disrupting school children's education - but they pointed out the media didn't complain about the interruption for school students when they had the day off for the Royal wedding!

One of the strikers calculated he would have to be on strike for 388 days before he lost the amount of money he will lose through pension changes.

All the strikers we spoke to understood that this was just the beginning of the fightback, and were prepared to escalate action.

Elaine Brunskill

20.01

London: '80-90% of schools closed or partially closed across London - look around and feel your strength!'

Teachers on a picket line in Waltham Forest, east London. photo Senan

Teachers on a picket line in Waltham Forest, east London. photo Senan   (Click to enlarge)

The streams of people turned to rivers, and the rivers turned into a flood as delegations of striking trade unionists from all four corners of London converged on Lincoln's Inn Fields for today's London demonstration against pension robbery.

Many had already come from local rallies and picket lines in their own boroughs. There were ten different picket lines outside Lewisham schools and several PCS and UCU pickets as well.

We got our message out early to London via a live interview for LBC radio from the picket line at St Matthews Academy. From there, NUT members made their way to Lewisham Town Hall and then up to Charing Cross before marching over to an already packed Lincoln's Inn Fields.

The demonstration was good-humoured but determined, whistling and chanting as we made our way slowly through the sunshine of Central London.

"What do we want - a decent pension! When do we want it? Before we die!" seemed to go down best with the young teachers on the considerable delegation behind the Lewisham NUT banner!

The turnout was two or three times greater than we were expecting - around 20,000 PCS, ATL, UCU and NUT members marched down Whitehall to the rally at Westminster Central Hall.

Reports from Lewisham NUT members that managed to make it into Central Hall spoke of an electric atmosphere at the closing rally addressed by the general secretaries of all four striking unions.

Both in London - and at the dozens of rallies across England and Wales - the unions jointly launched a Fair Pensions for All Petition demanding that all workers and pensioners have dignity and decent living standards in retirement.

I was asked to speak at the overflow rally outside Central Hall to address the many marchers that could not make it inside the hall. Before I spoke, a Lewisham Unison member and teaching assistant explained that he had joined the rally today to show his support.

To cheers, he added that, in the autumn, Unison and other school staff unions must all be on strike together. I asked the marchers to "look around and feel your strength.

This government may have thought they were going to get away with their cuts but now they know that the trade unions are on the march. They tried to claim that 40% was a low turnout for a ballot - but teachers have voted with their feet today with 80-90% of schools closed or partially closed across London".

"The press try to claim we haven't got public support but the response from parents and drivers passing our picket lines has been excellent. People want to see someone standing up to this government's cuts at last - and that's what they see us doing today".

"In 2005-6 the threat of united action forced the last government to retreat over pensions attacks. We can do the same in 2011.

"If we strike together, then we can win together"

Martin Powell-Davies, NUT NEC

19.47

Yorkshire round up

Sheffield: strike for the alternative - socialism

The main South Yorkshire rally was held in Sheffield with delegations of striking Doncaster Council Unison members and striking Barnsley College UCU members joining the 1,000+ demo.

Earlier, Socialist Party members visited PCS pickets at eight sites including at Department for Education (DfE) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), courts, Home Office and Tax Office as well as DWP offices and UCU members at Hallam University.

They then leafleted an NUT meeting.

After the meeting, teachers marched to join the rally singing Solidarity Forever. Teachers, especially young teachers, made up the bulk of the demo.

Amazingly we heard 20 speakers representing different trade unions and sections of the community. There was a feeling that the trade union movement was re-awakening, that today's strike is just the start and that this is a battle with a weak government that can be won.

Socialist Party and PCS member Robbie Faulds gave a rousing speech and final speaker of the day Marion Lloyd (Socialist Party and PCS NEC) drew loud applause when she denounced Ed Miliband and called on Unison leader Dave Prentis to ballot his members to join future public sector strikes.

Marion finished by saying that today was the strike for the alternative, and that alternative is socialism.

51 copies of the socialist were sold and three join cards filled in - a very good day!

Hull: gloves off to tackle Tories

Around 1,000 on demo, not everybody could get into the rally! March was really positive with good response from the public. Socialist Party members sold 25 papers.

Socialist Party member Mike Whale, who is the NUT branch secretary, had a 'gloves off' debate with a Tory on Radio Humberside.

Mike said: "I lost my temper with him but the journalists clapped me out of the studio!"

Rotherham

Socialist Party members visited UCU pickets at Rotherham College and PCS members at the Job Centre. About 50 attended the rally called by Rotherham Against the Cuts.

York

Socialist Party members visited most of the major pickets. 2-300 on the demo at which private sector shop steward and Socialist Party branch secretary, Leigh Wilks' speech was very well received.

Grimsby

Socialist Party members visited PCS picket lines at the DWP Jobcentre, the DWP contact centre and the Tax Office selling four papers.

Barnsley

Around 200 on demo

Alistair Tice

19.47

Huddersfield strike report

Nearly 60% of schools were closed across Kirklees; two local colleges were closed and there were impressive picket lines at the job centre and the university.

At the local college and one local school Unison members refused to cross picket lines to swell the ranks. This has been far more solid than any of the separate disputes over the last three years.

The mood of unity and determination infected the strikers. The joint strike rally was full to the rafters.

Speakers from the PCS, ATL, NUT, CWU and Unison were all warmly applauded. The call for a 24-hour public sector shutdown from Mike Forster from Unison was wildly applauded by the entire audience.

The rally was followed by an outdoor protest in the town centre called by Save Our Services (SOS) which was again addressed by local trade unionists.

A spontaneous demo followed the speeches with the loudest chants for a general strike echoing around the streets. 15 copies of the Socialist were sold.

Forward to an autumn of discontent!

Mike Forster

19.30

Coventry answers government myths

Socialist Party members visited over 20 picket lines. Then between 10am and 10.35am there was a morning rally of over 300 at Speakers Corner.

See http://www.coventryagainstthecuts.blogspot.com/ for pictures. Speakers answered the government's lies, including when members of non-striking unions expressed their solidarity.

Coventry Socialist Party

18.11
photo Hugh Caffrey

photo Hugh Caffrey   (Click to enlarge)

Ed Miliband - the 'right' note?

On the train on way back from Birmingham demo I overheard Ed Miliband (he was travelling second class with the common folk!) say that he thought he had struck the right tone when speaking at the local government conference also in Birmingham earlier today.

Shame he couldn't make the rally in Victoria Square - a few thousand teachers may not have agreed with him.

Clive, Coventry East Socialist Party

18.00

Labour heckled in Keighley

All across the country strikers marched . photo Hugh Caffrey

All across the country strikers marched. photo Hugh Caffrey   (Click to enlarge)

Around 60 people joined a rally in support of pension strikes called by Keighley Trades Council, with members and speakers from all unions taking part in the strike except the ATL (whose members in the area had all converged on Bradford) as well as many that weren't.

The first speaker, Dave Burke, assistant secretary of the PCS DWP group and a Socialist Party member cut through some of the government lies around pensions, both in the public sector and the plans to raise the state pension age too.

Iain Dalton, Yorkshire Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ) regional organiser and Socialist Party member pointed out the inspiration that the recent student movement had been many trade unionists and the need to link the energy and dynamism of young people into the trade union movement, highlight the upcoming Jarrow March organised by YFJ as an excellent opportunity to do this, several trade unionists in the crowd agreed pledging to raise it at their next branch meeting and make donations to support the march.

Several workers from the local hospital spoke about the effect of cuts and Andrew Lansley's bill aiming at the privatisation of the NHS. Jim Ryles of the local GMB branch explained how Airedale Hospital bosses had given themselves a 100% pay rise whilst at the same time increasing staff car parking charges - another blow against the government's lie that we are all in it together.

When local Labour councillor Keith Dredge spoke, saying that the alternative to the Con-Dem cuts was to back the Labour Party, he was heckled by strikers calling out "What about Ed Miliband?" referring to his comments in opposition to the strike.

It was up to another Labour councillor, Doreen Lee, to step in to save him, calling for the rally to send a message to Ed Miliband asking him whose side he is on.

The rally ended on a high with regional Unison official, Tony Pearson, highlighting the need for further, sustained and wider action to defend pensions, including private sector workers, repeating Unison general secretary Dave Prentis' recent words arguing for "The biggest wave of strikes , not since the miners' strike, but since 1926".

Bradford Socialist Party

17.21
Salford NUT. photo Hugh Caffrey

Salford NUT. photo Hugh Caffrey   (Click to enlarge)

Lincoln update

Standing room only at the NUT rally after 100 marched with Lincoln TUC. Overwhelming support for 24-hour public sector general strike.

Nick Parker

17.16
photo Hugh Caffrey,

photo Hugh Caffrey,   (Click to enlarge)

Cardiff: new trade union reps organising strikes

There was about 1,000 on the Cardiff demonstration. Jimmy Gill, chair of Cardiff and District DWP PCS branch, said: "We've never had such solid support for strike action and momentum is building.

I've been to meetings in the last week discussing with new reps who have never taken strike action before who have never taken strike action before who were putting on picket lines this morning."

Ross Saunders, Cardiff Socialist Party

17.15

PCS in DWP: massive support for a massive strike

Across the UK DWP members of PCS struck very strongly today. In Leeds city centre there were picket lines on the Jobcentres, benefit offices, courts, tax office, ACAS, University, schools and other workplaces.

Around a thousand students, lecturers, teachers and PCS members marched from the University to City Square - filling the square with the cheers and chants of around a 2,000-strong crowd.

Sheila Banks chair of Leeds against the cuts opened the rally passionately. There were excellent speakers from NUT, UCU, ATL and students and a school student.

The massive demo in Leeds. photo Leeds Socialist Party

The massive demo in Leeds. photo Leeds Socialist Party   (Click to enlarge)

Jane Aitchison, DWP Group President spoke out against the cuts on our jobs, pay and pensions and argued for the alternative and particularly the need to invest in jobs which was very well received.

Jane said: "Today is massive. This is a real turning point.

Make no mistake - this is not about affordability. Our pension schemes are affordable - even the Sunday Telegraph says so.

This isn't about people subsidising our pensions - this is about our pensions being robbed to pay for the failure of the banks. "The support we have today is massive.

Today I say to David Cameron and Ed Miliband: 'We are not making a mistake - but by God you are.'

"Millions of people in this country today - public sector workers, private sector workers, school kids, students the unemployed, the sick, the disabled and pensioners - are united in willing us to win in our fight to make the alternative real".

The biggest cheer came when Jane called on the TUC to coordinate action across the public sector on a scale not seen for decades. That is what we need and after today we are ready to build towards it.


16.49

Waltham Forest, east London: solidarity from non-striking unions

The lunch time demo at Waltham Forest Town Hall was also excellent. Over 250 people, many in non-striking unions expressed their solidarity.

Some workers came from Whipps Cross hospital, facing cuts of around 140 jobs. There was a good speech against the 'Labour' council's plans to force new contracts on workers as well as against the Tory/Lib pension counter-reform.

Mike Cleverly, Walthamstow Socialist Party

16.46

North Staffordshire: support for action

Across North Staffordshire picket lines took place at most PCS workplaces and at Stoke-on-Trent College, but the liveliest one was in Albion Square in the city centre.

North Staffs NSSN-hosted rally. photo NSSN

North Staffs NSSN-hosted rally. photo NSSN   (Click to enlarge)

Many shoppers getting off buses shouted their support and honked horns to show their support. A woman who seemed very flustered approached the picket line and pointing to two kids with her said: "I support your action.

"I would pay teachers a million pounds if they would look after these pair for just two hours!"

Most schools were either closed or only had a skeleton staff of NASUWT members. Midland News broadcast the mass picket live and we also got coverage on Radio Stoke and the local paper.

About 70 people made the brief march to a rally jointly organised by the PCS North Staffs branch and the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) Staffordshire.

The rally was chaired by the secretary of CWU North Midlands branch. We had speakers from the NUT, PCS North Staffs branch secretary, CWU Midlands No.7 branch secretary, NSSN Staffordshire, North Staffs TUC, Stoke-on-Trent College UCU and Keele University.

The mood was quite clear among all who attended. We need to turn today's almost one million on strike into four million in the autumn.

Andy Bentley

16.45

Support for 30 June strikes in Stafford

Socialist Party members in Stafford held a campaign stall in the town in support of the strikes. Earlier in the day we visited the PCS picket line outside the local Jobcentre.

50 PCS members were on strike and they were going down to Cannock to support fellow members and then on to the rally in Birmingham.

photo Hugh Caffrey

photo Hugh Caffrey   (Click to enlarge)

The campaign stall was very successful with 16 papers being sold and over 31 in fighting fund being raised!

Even though we only managed to get to one picket, union members were coming to our stall so we found out that PCS members at Stafford Prison and MoD Stafford were out as well as a good number of schools.

The response from the public was unanimously in support of the action with equal support for both teachers and PCS workers.

We spoke to some Unison members who were very much in favour of their union undertaking similar action in the immediate future!

Josie Shelley, Stafford Socialist Party

16.35

Walthamstow, east London: managers shocked by solidarity

The strike at Walthamstow Job Centre was virtually solid as barely a handful of union members went into work. The effect of the joint strike action boosted morale on the picket line at an office where managers, who had taken pride in remaining open and signing in previous strikes, were reduced to offering only a skeleton service even with extra workers brought in alongside non-union members.

Significantly some claimants who had rung the office first asking whether they had to come in were told to do so only to be turned away when they arrived without having to sign on, indicating that the solidity of the strike had come as a shock to the managers.

The pickets got a lot of spontaneous support from people going into the Job Centre, many of them taking stickers and leaflets and giving the lie to the Tory government propaganda that this strike would alienate ordinary people.

The acres of newsprint that had been dedicated to condemning the action from across the political spectrum had had the effect of publicising the action and the issues involved, shown by the response that the pickets got.

"This is all our fight, I hope you win" said one man, expressing the solidarity that many clearly felt with workers being prepared to fight back against the attacks of this millionaire Con-Dem government.

Ken Douglas, Walthamstow Socialist Party

16.26

South west Wales round-up

Dozens of picket lines were scattered across South West Wales, from as far apart as the contact centre in Pembroke Dock to the massive DVLA site in Swansea with Socialist Party members to the fore in organising the action and addressing the rallies.

PCS

Without exception, PCS members in the different departments of the civil service reported the best response ever to the strike call. Dave Warren on the DVLA picket line pointed to the empty car park as a clear indication of his members' feelings.

It was the same on the lively picket lines at the Land Registry and the Pension Centre in Swansea.

Llanelli

At Llanelli jobcentre the mood amongst pickets was determined and they even recruited a couple of non- members who then stayed on to help picket!

Hundreds of schools across the area were closed and a strong delegation of teachers attended the Swansea rally.

Gower College

UCU at Gower College organised an impressive rally at the Gorseinon campus gates where Socialist Party members Carrie Anne Watkins and Alec Thraves were amongst those giving support and solidarity speeches.

Swansea pension centre

Carrie Anne, PCS branch organiser at Swansea Pension Centre thanked UCU for the invite and said: "All workers, private and public sector should unite together, to make sure we have decent public services and a pension we deserve!

Swansea rally: socialists give unequivocal support

Teachers, civil servants, lecturers and many other trade unionists converged onto Swansea's Castle Square at lunchtime to rally support for their first day of strike action to defend their pensions and to stop the attacks on their jobs and conditions.

Alec Thraves brought solidarity from the Socialist Party and said: "Unlike Cameron, Clegg and Miliband the Socialist Party gives unequivocal support to the strikers and will assist in building for wider action in the Autumn".

Between 300-400 attended an enthusiastic lunchtime rally at Castle Square in Swansea, with four Socialist Party members amongst the guest speakers.

Katrine Williams, Wales chair of PCS, gave another rousing speech and had a huge ovation when she said: "We've had half a million marching, 750,000 striking today and we need four million out in the autumn!"

Caroline Butchers from the NUT highlighted the concerns of young teachers and the damage these attacks are having on the profession. Many young teachers present fully endorsed her speech.

Les Woodward brought solidarity and support from Remploy workers and said they "fully support the strikers and hoped support from them would be forthcoming if action was needed by Remploy workers to save their factories from closure".

A big shout of 'Yes' confirmed that solidarity. Ronnie Job, Secretary of Swansea Trades Council, rammed home the message that is spreading across the public sector when he said: "It wasn't us who caused this economic crisis and we're not going to pay for it.

It was the bankers, speculators, spivs and their rotten system that's at fault and needs changing". Dozens of copies of the Socialist were sold, hundreds of Socialist Party, National Shop Stewards Network and Youth Fight for Jobs leaflets given out and several potential members met on what was a brilliant strike day in South West Wales.

Roll on the autumn!


16.24

Lunchtime walkout at Wormwood Scrubs prison

Over 100 staff from all sections of the Prison Officers Association (POA), including governors, walked out of Wormwood Scrubs Prison, West London, today for a lunchtime protest meeting.

All of them are affected by the pension cuts and are angry about the other cuts in their living standards. They also wanted to express their solidarity with those public sector workers on strike.

Wormwood Scrubs. photo Keith Dickinson

Wormwood Scrubs. photo Keith Dickinson   (Click to enlarge)

Alan Gourley, the chair of the POA in the prison conducted the meeting outside the gates in very difficult circumstances with vehicles driving in and out of the prison.

But in a very good speech he clearly summed up the members' views, judging by his reception. He said he couldn't imagine prison officers being able to do their job till the age of 68.

At present there is provision for early retirement due to ill health but that can and has been violated by something called a Medical Efficiency clause which is then used to get rid of workers on a much reduced allowance.

Presently they are faced with a government dictat not negotiations. It is not a strong government and has already been forced into u-turns.

"Our pressure can tell", he said. He hoped The Socialist could give their voice a hearing as none of the other press had shown an interest.

I also spoke, bringing greetings, solidarity and congratulations from the Socialist Party, West London and branch and nationally.

Keith Dickinson, West London Socialist Party

16.21

Southend-on-Sea: this needs to be just the beginning

The protest in Southend. photo Dave Murray, photo Paul Mattsson

The protest in Southend. photo Dave Murray, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

200 workers, mostly from the large civil service workplaces nearby (DWP and Customs and Excise) rallied in Southend town centre at lunchtime. The mood was generally positive, with a widespread recognition from speakers and the people I spoke to in the crowd that this needed to be just the beginning, both in terms of further strike action and the need for a political alternative to austerity.

Dave Murray, Basildon branch

16.19

Worcester: teacher left Labour

Pete McNally added: "I spoke to a teacher from Hereford before the rally who would not take our leaflets but said she had just left the Labour Party because of Ed Miliband's remarks.

"Another teacher from Bromsgrove talked to us about the National Shop Stewards Network.


16.17

Doncaster tells Ed Miliband: "Back us, or back off!"

Socialist Party members in Doncaster had an early start. We visited the picket line outside the council offices, where the local authority Unison branch was striking over cuts in jobs and services.

Then we joined the PCS picket line outside the Jobcentre.

Striking workers were welcoming on both picket lines and were happy to talk about the dispute. PCS estimated that the strike was 90% solid while Unison considered it to be 80%; with those who crossed the picket line either being managers or agency staff.

Later a demonstration of over 250 marched from Doncaster council's headquarters, to the council chambers where an open air rally was held. As the march passed through the town centre, shoppers stopped to cheer and applaud in a display of the working class solidarity which still remains in this former coal mining region.

At the rally, speakers from NUT, ATL, UCU, PCS and Unison lined up to debunk the myth of "gold plated" public-sector pensions and to pledge their determination to see this fight through to the end.

Condemnation was poured onto the Con-Dem government but the biggest cheer came when one speaker attacked the Labour Party's refusal to support the strikes and gave Doncaster North MP, Ed Miliband the ultimatum: "Back us, or back off!"

Steve Williams, Barnsley/Doncaster Socialist Party

16.13

Delegate after delegate berating Yvette Cooper on cuts and New Labour attacks on strikes at TUC LGBT conference.

Marc Vallee on Twitter

15.49

PCS members at the Department of Health had a brilliant picket, with 80+% of members out. New members joining every day to participate in the strike.

Alexis Edwards, PCS

15.47

Nottinghamshire: NHS workers want action too!

Most NHS workers were not given the opportunity to show their anger at the attacks on the pensions. But 200 staff held a lunchtime rally at Rampton secure hospital in Nottinghamshire organised by health workers in the POA, with Unison members also involved.

Speaking as a former local government election candidate for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, Jon Dale was applauded when he called for a 24-hour public sector general strike.

Referring also to Ed Miliband's condemnation of the strike he called for the building of a new mass workers' party based on the trade unions. There was a lot of support for strike action in the NHS, maintaining emergency cover.

Many workers feared that some trade union leaders would conclude separate deals leaving NHS workers isolated and getting the worst deal.

A Socialist Party member

15.42

We marched!

There have been well-attended rallies across the UK with an estimated 5,000 people marching in Manchester, 4,000 in Brighton and 1,000 in Cardiff and Glasgow.

PCS press release

15.39

PCS in the Ministry of Justice

Closed more courts than ever, Westminster magistrates for the first time. Ten trials were cancelled, and prosecutors turned away and 40 prisoners waiting in the cells.

At London tribunals 102 staff should have worked and 84 never went in!

Lois Austin, PCS

15.34

Nottingham

Demo of 800 in Nottingham. 45 copies of the Socialist sold.

Big rally at Nottingham Albert Hall.

Jean Thorpe

15.33

Southampton: great response to socialists

Over 1,000 at Southampton rally. Great response to the Socialist Party leaflet.

Five teachers and young people filled in cards to join the Socialist Party.

Nick Chaffey

15.32

London: socialist speakers

The National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) handed over its sound system to the overflow rally when the official system broke down. Socialist Party members addressed the crowd; Martin Powell-Davies of the NUT teachers' union; James Kerr, a Unison member, NSSN chair Rob Williams and Paul Callanan, secretary of Youth Fight for Jobs.

Paula Mitchell

15.24

Liverpool: a great turnout

There were 3,000 on the Liverpool demo. A great turnout from all four unions on the picket lines this morning.

Socialist Party member and PCS assistant general secretary Chris Baugh spoke at the rally after the demo and got a great round of applause.

John Marston

15.37

Bristol: more solid than previous strikes

Over 5,000 people marched through Bristol today in the biggest demonstration that the city has seen in a generation. Striking teachers, lecturers and civil servants made this an impressive display of the strength of their strike.

Solidarity for their action was shown by members of the FBU, CWU, Unite, Unison and other unions and by a large number of students who all joined the demonstration.

Shoppers also voiced their support as they lined the sides of the march route. As Socialist Party member and PCS vice-president John McInally explained in a speech to the crowd, the strike was not just about pensions but implicitly about defending jobs and services from the vicious attacks by the government.

The energetic and enthusiastic mood was tempered by a real determination to do what is necessary to defeat the cuts. The biggest cheers came from all sides when speakers called for the action to be extended to a general strike across the whole public sector.

When a speaker from the ATL teachers' union said the strike was not intended to bring down the government large sections of the crowd vocally expressed their disagreement!

Earlier in the day Socialist Party members had visited and brought solidarity to all the main picket lines in the city. The demand for a one-day public-sector general strike as the next step in the struggle was universally well received.

Pickets all explained how this had been more solid than previous strikes. The need to fight back is very clear cut to workers who face not only attacks on their pensions but also on their pay and conditions, on job security and on the services that they provide.

As a civil service union PCS member picketing the Crown Court explained to me: "You wouldn't tolerate it if Cameron came into your house and stole your telly so we have to fight back when they try and do the same with our pensions."

Tom Baldwin

15.10

North west update: "we won't work til we're 68!"

There were 600+ at the Preston rally with all unions represented with flags and banners . Big turnouts from FBU firefighters and CWU members.There was 350 people at the one in Lancaster. Salford City Unison branch held lunchtime protests across the city with many members bringing Unison placards they'd made.

20+ rallied outside Swinton Civic Hall with many others elsewhere in the borough. There was a great response to the Socialist.

The main chant on the Manchester demo was: "1 2 3 4, we're not paying any more; 5 6 7 8, we won't work til we're 68!"

The Manchester demonstration is the biggest local trade union march in the area for many years.

Hugh Caffrey

15.03

Worcester: blame international capitalism

Socialist Party members visited picket lines at Worcester University - a colourful display of placards, some children going to a local school shouted 'Defend pensions' and one raised a clenched fist.

On to Worcester Magistrates Court, one picket with placard, we offered support and he bought a copy of the Socialist paper. On to Worcester Technology College - nearly 30 pickets at two entrances, most took leaflets and explained to us some of the particular issues there.

Some students came out to support their tutors with home-made placards and there was a lot of support from passing motorists

On to the rally of over 200 strikers and their supporters - Steve Baker of the ATL explained the average teacher pension is 10,000, the unions had already accepted savings of 67 billion, and said no one would want to pay more to get less in their pension.

Bryn Griffiths of Worcester Technology College UCU said there were management plans to double up class sizes so there might be 100 students in a class, he also said teachers in private schools would be excluded from the Teachers Pension Scheme.

Max Hyde of the NUT said Sir Philip Green should pay as much tax as a London teacher, claimed teachers would choose not to join the scheme as it was too expensive, with pension contributions rising 50%.

"We are standing up for our own rights and for the future of the country". Kevin Greenway of PCS NEC said there was big support for the strike.

He had come from a picket line at a court in Kidderminster, where one picket had growled at a manager who was going into work: "Before we get the Sun headlines about intimidation I should tell you the picket was three years old." Kevin said 154,000 PCS members had been on the union's pension website.

When Kevin mentioned the remarks by Ed Miliband against striking there was audible groaning in the room. When Kevin blamed international capitalism for the worsening crisis in Greece there was applause.

Several speakers said there should be a friendly approach to those workers in unions which had not balloted to get them involved, one teacher described NAS/UWT members as "chomping at the bit" to take action. An Aslef member gave a message of support.

Pete, Worcester

15.01

Birmingham: militant mood gets a thumbs up!

The strike numbers in Birmingham were boosted by the one-day strike of local government workers in Unison against huge pay and job cuts and the planned imposition of worse contracts.

A march of up to 5,000 PCS, NUT, ATL, UCU and local government workers took some time to make its way through the city. Along the way there was lots of public support with people coming out of shops and cafes to give a thumbs up.

There was a very militant mood and speeches.

Every time the bankers were mentioned there were huge boos!

Clive Walder, Birmingham Socialist Party

14.58

In Truro, county town of Cornwall, 800 people attended an open air rally.

From NUTonline Twitter feed

14.33

Prison officers show support in Manchester

Eighty prison officers in the POA held a lunchtime meeting at Manchester Strangeways prison in moral support with strikers and to protest at attacks on their own pensions.

Hugh Caffrey

14.23

London: Ed Miliband is a 'disgrace'

3,000 at London indoor rally at Westminster Hall. Biggest cheer so far (I mean really huge!) when ATL secretary Mary Bousted said that Ed Miliband's response to the strike is a "disgrace".

Paula Mitchell

14.22

Ministry of Justice Salford courts

Despite planned closure of the courts as a result of cuts, determined pickets enjoyed good support from Salford Unison stewards and members who later held a lunchtime protest.

There Unison branch secretary Steve North warned that Unison members would need to join action in the autumn. HMRC revenue and customs at Trinity Bridge House in Salford: massive support and no PCS members crossed the picket lines.

Hugh Caffrey

  (Click to enlarge)

14.18

Bolton: college staff organise together

There was a picket line/demo of 90 this morning outside the three Bolton colleges which are next to each other: Bolton Sixth Form, Bolton University and Bolton College.

NUT, ATL and UCU all participated, including many members. They had spent two weeks building for it and had sent seven to another sixth form campus too.

14.27

And they had speeches from the various reps and others on the Bolton big picket (just been talking to an NUT rep who was on it).

Judy Beishon

14.11

West London: support builds

Solid strikes at Uxbridge, Hayes, Heathrow and Southall Jobcentres.

In Uxbridge, the junior manager turned up for work, stayed half an hour, then came outside and joined the pickets with some cakes, and requested to join the PCS!

30 lively pickets at Uxbridge College, with support from the students. UCU and ATL held a united picket.

40 schools were closed across the borough. HMRC and the Borders Agency held pickets at Heathrow and got a great deal of support from passing motorists and other Heathrow workers.

Hillingdon Against Cuts and the Socialist Party held a mass leafleting session in Uxbridge town centre, with Unite, Bectu, GMB and PCS members participating, raising money and building support from the public, who were very supportive.

Ian Harris, Hillingdon Socialist Party

14.03

London: strikers fill the streets

Tens of thousands of kids, teachers, civil servants and supporters marched in London. They filled the entire route! Huge support from passers-by, many joined the march.

14.13

The National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) speaker system gave trade unionists an opportunity to speak. NSSN chair Rob Williams provided a fighting strategy of general strike action.

Paula Mitchell, London Socialist Party

14.00

Wales: extract from report on walesonline.co.uk

Thousands of public sector workers have taken their protests over government pension plans to the streets of Wales during a day of strike action. Teachers, lecturers and other public sector workers were among those on the Cardiff Against Cuts rally as part of a day of industrial action across Wales.

In Swansea, PCS union members gathered outside the DVLA building in Morriston, while in Merthyr Tydfil, there were picket lines outside the town's college, and its HMRC building.

Workers waving placards protested outside the National Library of Wales, in Aberystwyth, while there were also demonstrations at the Ceredigion town's university.

In Cardiff, a march took protestors from Sophia Gardens to the Welsh Government building at Cathays Park, where a number of speakers from a range of unions addressed the crowd.

Speaking during the march, Dr Philip Dixon, of the ATL teachers union, said: "I think the significance of this day shows that in 127 years of history, we have never taken national strike action.

"We have been through decades of industrial unrest and we have never decided to take national strike action before.

"We have done now because teachers are so angry about what is being proposed by the Westminster government."

David Evans, of NUT Cymru, said: "Today we are sending a powerful message to Westminster to say this is not acceptable.

"Teachers and public sector workers are prepared to take a stand."

He predicted that by the autumn, many other public sector unions will have voted to take similar strike action, raising the prospect of vast walkouts across the country.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka, said: 'This is the best-supported strike we've ever had...The government claimed after the strike ballot that civil servants didn't support strike action, but today we can see that they have voted with their feet and sent a clear message to the government that they will not tolerate these attacks on their hard-earned pensions rights and will fight the cuts that threaten to devastate our communities and jobs.'


13.50

Hertfordshire: prepared to go even further

The Hertfordshire rally of the four unions on strike was packed with rank and file union members. The mood was extremely good and prepared to go even further.

Contributions from Socialist Party members went down very well. The message was clear: go back and organise, talk to fellow members, talk to members of other unions the next action should be all public service unions, including Unison, NASUWT, Unite, GMB and all the rest.

Tonight Stevenage Anti-Cuts Union will be holding a meeting on how to fight all the cuts. Hundreds of leaflets were handed out at the rally.

See 'What's on' column for details of meetings all round the country.

Steve Glennon

13.31

Exeter takes to the streets

800 have just marched through Exeter. Pedestrians applauding as we marched.

Robin Clapp, South West Socialist Party

13.25

Manchester: support from all sides!

A driver of a train going over a bridge next to the Manchester rally saw the rally and banners and sounded the train horn to a big wave of applause.

Judy Beishon

13.20

More than 700 teachers, civil servants, lecturers, parents and children protest in the Norwich sunshine. Message of support received from Unison school support workers in Cardiff.

From NUTonline Twitter feed

13.14

I think there are about 800 at the Cardiff rally

StLemur on Twitter, UCU

13.09

Southampton: Prentis says five million out in autumn if attack continues

Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary, was cheered in Southampton at a united rally of council workers, teachers and civil servants. He gave the message: "There is an alternative.

"If the bankers caused this crisis, they should pay."

And "if they attack on pensions continues," he said, "there should be five million out by the autumn."

Ian Woodland, Unite, whose members face dismissal on 11 July if they refuse to sign up to new worse contracts, said: "Our campaign will continue, come what may."

Nick Chaffey, Southern Socialist Party

13.05

Massive Manchester rally

A speaker at the Manchester rally just said there are 5,000 here

Judy Beishon

13.00

Leicester land registry

Land registry workers on the PCS picket line in Leicester were buoyed up by not only turning away the post but also the bin lorry with workers refusing to cross picket lines.

There was support from the public going past, especially from bus drivers.

Steve Score, Leicester Socialist Party

12.55

Leicester: best strike action we've ever seen

Fantastic response to strike action in Leicester. Most of the schools are closed, courts and Jobcentres aren't running.

There are currently 800 people at a strike rally following a march from the city centre. Many trade unionists reporting it's the best strike action they have ever seen - non-members not going into work, senior management joining the union to come on strike too.

Determined mood among non-striking unions that they want to come out on strike too!

Becci Heagney, Leicester Socialist Party

Later additional reports:

Prior to the big rally in Victoria Park, Leicester Against the Cuts organised a brief city centre lunchtime rally of about 100 aimed at drawing in workers whose unions had not balloted for action this time round, to build for the idea of a public sector wide one-day strike. Then we marched up to join the rally on the park.

300 at a rally in Northampton


12.50

Derby: solidarity speeches

200 striking teachers and PCS members attended a strike rally in Derby. Unison and GMB members spoke in solidarity, raising the prospect that they would be out in the autumn.

13.07

The biggest applause at the rally was when Miliband's opposition to strike action was criticised.

Steve Score

12.49

Lincoln: picket lines, march, protest and rally

Pickets outside Lincoln University and two Jobcentres. 100 marched with Lincoln TUC. Protest outside Lincoln prison.

Now off to NUT rally!

Nick Parker, PCS

12.43

Yorkshire on the march!

Nearly 1,000 on Sheffield demo and 400 in Doncaster.

Alistair Tice, Yorkshire Socialist Party

12.14

Brendan Barber: "You are right to make this stand"

"When injustice is piled upon unfairness, then you are right to make this stand. Stick together, stick with your unions and we will win." Brendan Barber, affected by the intoxicating mood at the Exeter rally just now.

12.31

Jim Thomson, UCU college lecturers union member, has just brought the house down by demanding a 24-hour public sector general strike.

Robin Clapp, Southern region Socialist Party

11.57

Bristol: Mass support for public sector general strike

On the 5,000-strong Bristol demo striking unions were joined by banners from the CWU, FBU, Unite and Unison trade unions.

A PCS picket at the Crown Court said: "You wouldn't tolerate it if Cameron broke into your house and stole your telly so you have to fight when they do the same to your pension."

All the strikers I've spoken to agree we need a public sector general strike.

Tom Baldwin, Bristol Socialist Party

11.45

Greenwich, south London: solid

Strike solid locally, good pickets at HMRC revenues and customs building, Jobcentre, college and university and about 100 meeting up to get down to demo with vast majority of schools closed.

Plus 50 Unite members were at a council lobby last night.

Paul Callanan, Greenwich Socialist Party

NUT on the march. photo Hugh Caffrey

NUT on the march. photo Hugh Caffrey   (Click to enlarge)

11.40

Manchester on the march

Thousands of strikers and anti-cuts activists have just begun to march in Manchester from All Saints park to Castlefield. Earlier, there were lively picket lines across the city, including at the revenue and customs offices, Manchester Met university and court offices.

There is an excellent turnout from the ATL on their first ever strike in 127 years! The FBU have a good contingent and we have heard that prison officers in the POA are having a lunchtime protest at Strangeways prison. More later, including reports of the Unison rally in Salford.

Judy Beishon

11.21

Standing room only in Exeter rally

At least 500 crammed into the Exeter rally. Others still queuing outside! Incredible atmosphere. Genuinely historic day for trade unionism in Exeter.

Robin Clapp

11.17
PCS strikers in Durham. photo Elaine Brunskill

PCS strikers in Durham. photo Elaine Brunskill   (Click to enlarge)

Elaine Brunskill, Newcastle Socialist Party sent in the following quotes from picket lines (all in personal capacity)

"This is a fight to the end. We're fighting to save all the hard earned gains made in the past. "We're fighting for all those in the future. "They're attempting to push us back to the hungry 1930s, and remember these people attacking us are the grandchildren of the mill and factory owners!"

John McGrory (PCS Branch Chair), Durham Passport Office

"I carry my pension form around with me to show people - here it is. I'll get 724 a year - I'm worth more dead. "They want us to increase our contributions, but get less money." Three weeks into the month most of us that work here are dipping into our overdraft. To me this is an ideological attack I'm a Labour Party member. When I saw on the news last night that Miliband was going to cross the picket line I felt like crying"(PCS)

Wendy Hilary (PCS)

"A lot of disabled people work for the civil service precisely because of the pension. If I'm forced to work until I'm 66 or 68 - I'll not get there. "Thousands of other disabled people will be in the same position - we'll die before we get our pensions."

Richard Murray (PCS), Durham Land Registry

"We're getting a good response from the public - generally everyone is supporting us"

Mike Cassidy (PCS Health & Safety Rep)
photo Hugh Caffrey

photo Hugh Caffrey   (Click to enlarge)

"It's refreshing to be on a picket line that's popular. "We are getting lots of support from passing drivers including from BMW, Jaguar and Audi drivers and even Police cars have been joining in."

Stuart Dunn (PCS)

"A policeman on foot patrol stopped to wish us good luck and said if it wasn't for the strike ban on police they would be out as well."

Anon PCS

11.09

Brilliant turnout across the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

95%!

Two offices shut in Barnsley and Rotherham. Sunderland Jobcentre shut.

Most offices only open to turn people away!

Fantastic level of public support.

Off to Leeds demo!

Jane Aitchison, PCS president in the DWP

10.28

DVLA Brighton shut. Two non-PCS members went in, 19 on strike. Solidarity greetings to all taking strike action from their branch.


10.12

B6 Hackney college - picking up the torch of the student protesters

There were about 70 pickets on the two gates of the B6 college in Hackney, east London. James Drummond, the NUT teachers union campaigns officer at the college spoke to Clare Doyle: "The picket is extremely vibrant with lots of support from the passers-by and the public.

"UK Uncut came around earlier with breakfast for us. "But this is a broader political question. It was not difficult to argue for strike action. This is about all the attacks on education.

"We have picked up the torch of the fight that the students began over the Education Maintenance Allowance before Christmas. The key as to whether the students come back into the struggle is whether the trade unions get their wits together in time for a round of strikes in the autumn.

If we're taking action, that will inspire the students. They were in the vanguard last December and we followed their lead.

Now we have a responsibility to give a lead and continue the struggle."

The chair of the NUT at B6, Jamie Duff said: "This is an ideological and political issue disguised with economic arguments. They are trying to facilitate the future privatisation of the public sector.

It's not just pensions. This movement will build up.

The members are not in the mood for half-baked concessions."

Clare Doyle, Hackney Socialist Party

Quotes from the Bsix picket line:

Paul Yarrow, music technology teacher: "I'm not actually paying pension contributions as yet. I have been here eight years and have only just finished paying off my debts from student loans and fees.

"Of course I have great sympathy with the young people who cannot afford to go to university".

Gill Boocock, sociology teacher: "It's time for everyone to unite together to say 'No!' . On the BBC they are having difficulty finding people against.

Our principal here is in favour of the strike. In some cases in the colleges there have been efforts by the principals to get the full day's pay for those on strike! I feel inspired by all the solidarity being expressed".

Jamie Duff, Chair, NUT: "It did not take much to get the strike organised. Everyone was so supportive.

They all volunteered to help with organising, doing posters and banners. There is a passion about the issue [of pensions] but also an understanding that this is a wider attack on public sector services ...The students have been very supportive.

We stood shoulder to shoulder to try and save the EMA [Education Maintenance Allowance, abolished by the Con-Dem government].

David Hampton, Humanities: "I have been teaching for 26 years. There were some strikes in the '80s and '70s.

Our action today is the start, although certainly the 26th [March] was the first jumping off point. I only just escaped getting kettled that day near Piccadilly, but I almost felt it didn't matter because it had been such a great day! I really liked the slogans on that demo.

Things like: 'Down with this sort of thing!'. For today we have made posters with things as close to the knuckle as we could get, like 'Gove 'uck the bankers not us!' with a collage of a picture of London's 'Gherkin' tower rising from two faces of Gove.

Others a bit tamer were: A circle with the red line across saying [this college is a] 'No Gove Zone!' and another mocking: 'By Gove, I seem to have lost my pension!'.

Two were taken to the demo and carried like a billboard by a Bsix teacher.

One had portraits of Gove in a pile saying 'Bonfire of the Quangoves' and on the other side, another unflattering portrait of the Education Minister presenting: 'Gove, Gove the pension toad!"


10.07

Picket round up from North West from Hugh Caffrey

PCS at Jobcentre in Graeme House, Chorlton Square,Manchester

Pickets told us about the terrible working conditions and impossible targets, despite which three-quarters of workers were on strike.

PCS at British Council, Manchester

Branch chair and Socialist Party member Alex Davidson said only ten went in, a strike rate of well over 90%, while on a large and lively picket line outside the Jarrow youth March for Jobs plan was well-received.

Oldham

PCS members mounted a good picket line at the benefits centre, as they did at Oldham courts too where Unison members visited to show their support.


09.58

PCS: absolutely solid

The strike is absolutely solid. This is our best ever turnout and it is looking very good for the demo later on today.

One little anecdote: a judge at one of the courts came out and gave the pickets a box of biscuits and took a sticker - so we're getting support from all quarters!

John McInally, vice-president PCS

09.45

Union membership increased significantly in Taunton

Pickets at the DWP Jobcentre in Taunton, Somerset reported a high level of involvement and support for their strike. They added that union membership has increased significantly during the couple of days leading up to the strike.

One branch officer with decades of experience said he had never seen such a sharp and dramatic increase in branch membership before!

Socialist Party supporter

09.43

Cambridge Regional College: solidarity between lecturers and young people

Despite many saying not affected in the local paper there was excellent representation from the teachers unions at Cambridge Regional College. A UCU rep showed support for the Youth Fight for Job campaign's Jarrow march for jobs in the autumn.

Steve Cawley, Cambridge Socialist Party

8.42am Police around camp in Trafalgar Square. Presumably to stop rioting. photo and caption Suzanne Beishon

8.42am Police around camp in Trafalgar Square. Presumably to stop rioting. photo and caption Suzanne Beishon   (Click to enlarge)


08.38

Changes at Environment and Climate Change

Small victory at Department for Environment and Climate Change with security closing the back staff entrance for them.

The department has only existed two years and membership has gone up from 180 to 286. A picketer bought the Socialist.

Suzanne Beishon, London Socialist Party

08.22

New young workers joining PCS

Kevin at Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) reported people joining the union because of the strike. He was appalled at Labour MPs being instructed to cross picket lines and at Miliband's anti-strike statement.

He pointed out that in Newham, where he lives, every Labour councillor voted for cuts. They've made it clear which side they're on.

He said: "Unison members should be on strike today - I'm sure they want to be.

"We'll have to keep the pressure on."

Paula Mitchell, London Socialist Party

08.18

Picket at Tory HQ by charity commission workers.

Sean Figg

07.55

Parliament

Security staff at parliament set up their picket at 5.30am to catch the early shift. Saikou Jaiteh, the PCS civil service workers' union rep, explained that hardly anyone went into work.

"We're expecting a good day today. We are determined.

People can see that this attack on pensions is a fundamental attack. When people look at how much they will lose, it's devastating.

We see this strike as just the beginning. This government isn't going to make any serious concessions without a serious fight.

We need other unions, all the public sector to come out together.

If we get that in the autumn it will be a real game-changer."

Paula Mitchell, London Socialist Party

07.38

Treasury

PCS picket at the treasury said it's much quieter than in previous strikes. Only a trickle of people going in.

Suzanne Beishon, London Socialist Party

07.01

Central London strikes

Central London is different today. 7am in parliament square and there's all the usual traffic, black cabs and buses.

Soon there'll be the usual ranks of tourists. But every direction you look in something else is happening - workers are starting to stake out their pickets.

Up Whitehall, down Millbank, up Victoria street and on three sides of the square itself.

It's a sign of the potential power of the working class at the heart of government - parliament itself is lined with pickets; the treasury, dept of health, ministry of defence, dept for work and pensions, foreign office, business and enterprise - all lined by striking workers!

Paula Mitchell, London Socialist Party

06.20

Hands off our pensions in Surrey

An eve of strike rally organised by Redhill Against the Cuts was addressed by NUT and UCU strikers as well as Unison reps from the borough, county and health branches.

The meeting was well attended and lively and agreed to campaign to widen the strike and put pressure on our unions leaders to get together for a 24 hour general strike.

The striking unions and their supporters will be meeting at Camberley station at 1pm before marching to Camberley Theatre for a rally. NUT reps will be delivering a letter to Michael Gove MP in the morning and PCS strikers will be picketing in Woking.

Paul Couchman, Surrey

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