Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/13257
N30 - Millions strike back at Con-Dem government
The picket lines and strike rallies throughout the UK on 30th November were a magnificent and massive display of workers' opposition to the government's attacks on pensions.
The anger of most of the strikers went way beyond the issue of pensions, to encompass all the attacks on pay, jobs, conditions, benefits and services.
Below are some of the reports, texts and tweets that were sent to the Socialist Party during the events of the day and afterwards.
Surrey: 1,500 attended rallies across the county. 600 marched through Kingston, 600 in Woking and 300 in Leatherhead. Workers from local government, health, schools and the civil service joined forces on the biggest day of strike action seen in Surrey for decades.
Coordinated by Hands Off Our Pensions in Surrey (HOOPS, part of Save Our Services), activists from Unison, GMB, Unite, NUT, NASUWT, ATL, NAHT, PCS and other unions were united in condemning the attacks on pensions as well as opposing all cuts in public services and public sector pay, terms and conditions. Socialist Party members played a key role in building for and organising the Surrey rallies as well as the dozens of well attended picket lines across the county.
I (Paul Couchman, Unison and HOOPS secretary) chaired the Leatherhead rally and joined other speakers in calling for further national action and the need for a socialist alternative. Jane Armitage (Surrey Unison strike leader) and Thelma Snelgrove (PCS secretary, HMRC Woking) led the Woking rally which had five times the expected turnout and echoed the call for further national strikes.
Surrey County Unison had nearly 30 picket lines - some with 20 and 30 members turning out. Big congratulations particularly to Nina and Coby, Unison stewards who had 35 on their school picket line and Alan, who got 28 out on the picket of the county offices in Reigate. A clear message from Surrey unions - we are united, organised and prepared to fight till we win. Paul Couchman
Bradford: Despite the Con-Dem doom merchants trying to put people off strike action with inflated claims on the cost to the economy, the centre of Bradford was vibrant as teachers, civil servants, etc, ventured into town for the strike rally. Phrases along the lines of: "I haven't been into the centre of Bradford for years" could be frequently heard in the crowd at the rally. The mood was buoyant and confident of the justness of the strike. It was sometimes hard to hear the speeches over the sound of the vuvuzelas provided by Unison.
When it was all said and done, around dinnertime, a lot of the approximately 1,000-strong gathering poured into what remains of the restaurants, bars and shops of this city, giving the local economy a much needed shot in the arm.
The day's events began well before lunch though and as on 30th June, the Socialist Party was lending its support on the picket lines from the early morning. Unlike in June though we visited the first picket line of the day under the cover of darkness, there was also a chilly wind, the temperature couldn't have been much above zero. Luckily this didn't seem to deter people's determination to attend picket lines nor dampen their spirits, there were so many picket lines we were rather stretched.
The teaching unions held a joint conference at the Hilton Hotel prior to the rally whilst civil service union PCS and others took part in a small march to the rally. At the teachers' rally, Bradford NUT branch secretary Ian Murch said that the pension scheme for teachers had raised £46 billion more than it had paid out, so much for 'unaffordable' pensions. Matt Leek
Birkenhead: There was demo of about 1,000, mainly teaching unions but also Unite, with limited participation from Unison and PCS. The rally had speakers from main unions including Unison and PCS. There was a good reception when a GMB and also a PCS speaker (Socialist Party member Dave Lunn) criticised Labour. Dave raised the need for further action soon - which was also well received.
The strike was relatively solid, with most schools closed. Academies stayed open with no pickets because of fear of imtimidation and retribution from management - which has arisen since academy status. Most council buildings were closed. In the one I work in, about 150 scabs drawn from a number of buildings went in, most just to sign in, then were sent home - which they were told in advance would happen. But from actual staff who work in my building (about 150) only about 25 went in - mostly non-union members or senior management; just two union members went in (one of whom joined the union last week!).
From speaking to various reps there is recognition of the need to keep up the momentum and a mood for action soon, but a bit of fogginess over what form this should take - though they are not opposed to a further 24-hour or 48-hour strike. A Unison member
Warrington: The march was much bigger than expected, around 1,200 - we had expected 400! A Socialist Party platform speaker was applauded for saying: Don't depend on the Labour Party, they should be backing this, not sitting on the fence.
Cardiff: At Cardiff University, one of the city's biggest workplaces, the mood was high as pickets from all 25 schools of the university converged on the chemistry department for a rally, where all 117 members of staff have been handed a warning of redundancy by management. Students' union officers refused to cross UCU picket lines and instead spoke in support of lecturers; Socialist Students student councillors will be urging the students' union to support upcoming industrial action. Edmund Schluessel
Hastings: Nearly a thousand people marched in the biggest local demonstration since the poll tax, before holding a massive open air rally in the town centre.
Speakers included Adam Khalif of PCS NEC; Jeremy Birch of Hastings Borough Council who condemned the actions of this illegitimate government; Fraser MacInnes of NUT who called for the building of a new, truly representative workers' party; well known victimised trade unionist and trades council chair, Eddie Fleming, who urged workers to "fight, fight and keep fighting"; Gareth Docherty (PCS); Nigel Sheahan (PCS); David Francis of Hastings Against Cuts; and myself (Sam Buckley, trades council). The Rosie the Riveter Women Workers Choir provided musical accompaniment. Sam Buckley
Chester: Moving through town with banners, vuvuzelas, whistles and instruments will be something those on the Chester march will never forget. The streets were lined with the general public, some stunned to see a march in Tory Chester, others clapping and shouting words of encouragement.
Others joined with the march and our numbers swelled to 1,500-2,000 as we reached the cross for the TUC's 'noise at one'. People were filming from Chester's historic rows, and more than a few were shedding tears as Chester staked a claim for the noisiest march in the country!
The marchers then packed into the Guildhall. Speakers from PCS, NUT and ATL spoke of their pride in striking on 30th June as well as 30th November. Speakers from Unison said they were prepared to strike again and again if the government still refused to move on the central issues involved in the pension's dispute.
Ray McHale, of Unison, said that while the people at the top of the council had got richer (including chief executive, Steve Robinson, who was paid £45,000 for acting as returning officer for the election) everyone else had become 'more efficient' - which seems to mean doing more work for less pay!
The mood was clear today - if necessary we're prepared to strike again and next time it will be bigger!
Unilever workers have also voted 85% for strike action over changes to their pensions. Cheshire West Against the Cuts fully supports these private sector workers in their dispute and will be offering its solidarity. Alec Price
Swansea: Tens of thousands of public sector workers in the area took strike action, giving our verdict on the government's plans to steal our pensions - "get your thieving hands off". Following lively and vibrant picket lines at sites all across the city, over 2,000 workers marched through the centre of town. From shops, pubs, restaurants and houses, people came into the street to applaud and join in our chants and songs.
The rally at the end completely filled Castle Square, confirming the correctness of the decision to hold an open air rally despite the miserable autumn weather. The rally heard from trade unionists representing workers in education, health, the local authority and the civil service. They voiced their determination to keep fighting until the government concedes. This determination, increased by Osborne's announcement of a pay freeze until 2015, has to built on by escalating the action.
The TUC should name the next day of strike action now and for it to take place as early as practical in the New Year. Public sector workers voted for this action with such huge majorities because it is a fight we dare not lose and they understand that it is a deliberate attempt to make us pay for a crisis of the bosses' system.
Labour Party MP for Swansea East, Sian James, promised support for the strikers but could not defend the Labour leadership's unwillingness to back our action Another Labour representative told me she was "ashamed" of her party leader's attitude to the strike. If even the Labour Party's elected representatives are shamed by their party's position, is it not time that major trade unions stopped giving them unquestioning support (and our subs) and instead support candidates who will genuinely fight for our members? Ronnie Job
Sheffield: Teams of Socialist Party members visited picket lines across the city, tripping over some we didn't expect, including three Napo members outside a Probation Service office.
Among strike supporters on the first PCS picket line we visited (at Department of Employment and BIS) we met private sector call centre worker Babs, a PCS member who had taken the day off in solidarity.
On another picket line, home wardens showed us a mobile phone text they had received, offering an extra £26 to any who could come in on their day off - a Labour council not just inviting workers to scab but bribing them to do so!
By late morning, feeder marches by different unions and students were arriving into Barkers Pool outside the City Hall, and then delegations from Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster where they had already had their own rallies and demos. Was it 5,000 or 10,000 that the local paper The Star reported later? Whichever, it was by faraway the biggest demo Sheffield's seen for decades.
The mood was buzzing with a sense of power and confidence but also a wariness that this strike had to be just the start and not the end that many feared some trade union leaders would want to make it. Socialist Party member Marion Lloyd (PCS NEC member), the last speaker at the main TUC rally, called for further national strike action involving the private sector, and for a political alternative to Labour to fight for socialist policies.
After the rallies, about 75 university students, who had earlier toured picket lines, marched back to Sheffield University and occupied the Arts Tower in solidarity with public sector workers and against big business takeover of education. Alistair Tice
Birmingham: A sea of colour and a flood of people. 10,000+ working people marched through the city centre. Many of the public applauded and many thrust hands out to get information from the marchers. It was the biggest and youngest march for ages.
It was supposed to be cancelled after the TUC pulled out when faced with council obstruction and huge threatened charges. But local unions ensured that we kept the right to demonstrate in the city, refusing to pay and insisting on marching. It was stewarded entirely by our unions, and of course it passed entirely peacefully.
Thousands then poured into the National Indoor Arena for a rally. Brendan Barber (national TUC), Dave Prentis (Unison general secretary) and others rightly exposed the hypocrisy of the government and the lie that 'we're all in it together'. They raged against the bankers and said 'enough of their greed and arrogance'. Brendan Barber left with a clenched fist salute. Tony Woodley (Unite general secretary) rightly added that we can't just say 'no', that we need an alternative.
But it was left to Janice Godrich (PCS president) to explain the way forward, saying that the problem wasn't that the government was 'going too far, too fast' but that they were cutting at all. She said we have to prepare for more action. There was a muted reaction when Janice first raised this, as many began to think about this for the first time. But as she explained what was needed she was more and more vigorously supported by the crowd.
Coventry: On a quiet Wednesday morning the main sound was of whistles and horns sounding as one picket line after another realised it was very close to another group of fellow strikers. Within two hours, the quiet gave way to a huge 2,500-strong march through the city.
North Wales: A series of rallies were held across north Wales with picket lines at many locations including hospitals, council offices and government workplaces.
In Bangor town centre 200 protesters were seen from various unions. In Mold, 200 congregated at the town hall.
Following a demo of 400 in Wrexham a rally was packed out with workers from the the PCS, Unite, UCAC, NUT, UCU, NASUWT, Unison, NAHT and though not actually on strike a representative from the RCN brought solidarity greetings.
It was commented upon that, while some parents might be unhappy with the inconvenience of the schools been closed, how did they feel about the reality of teachers taking classes when 65 years plus. The example of PE teachers and their zimmer frames being stuck in the mud on the football pitch was used as an example!
The Chair got applause from the audience when criticising the Labour Party for not suporting the strike. The overwhelming feeling was that the action shouldn't stop here but this was just the beginning if the government refuses to back down, with calls for further escalated action. Liz Cowell and Keith Pattenden
Worcester: A magnificent march of 600 trade unionists organised by Worcester Trade Union Council went through the streets of the city. The message was clear: we will not work longer, we will not accept a worse pension and we certainly will not pay more in contributions for the privilege.
Teachers, lecturers, health workers, refuse workers, ambulance staff, cleaners, office workers, Connexions staff, civil servants (including those represented by the FDA, the highest grade employees), educational psychologists and many others took part in a noisy march fronted by a samba band to rally at Tramps nightclub in the city centre.
It was standing room only as many more who had not braved the cold weather joined the marchers. 700 people filled the hall literally to the rafters as all three tiers of the club were packed out. Max Hyde, NUT Junior Vice President, started her speech with questions: whether there were any public sector employees in the crowd - a resounding yes; whether any opposed the Con-Dem pension plans - another resounding yes; whether anyone present was responsible for the economic crisis - silence. She went on to attack Labour's opposition to the strike.
Speakers from Napo, the probation service union and Unison also echoed the frustration and anger directed by many of the workers towards Miliband's position.Kevin Greenway, PCS national executive, outlined the next step in the face of continued government intransigence. If we are to lose much more than a day's pay after the increased pension contributions begin next year then we are prepared to strike again in the near future. The TUC before Christmas should set a date - before the end of January - for the next action. Sean McCauley
Northern Ireland: A solid day of strike action, with strikers particularly angry after Osborne's speech the day before. 10,000 attended the Belfast rally and about 2-3,000 in Derry. Other smaller rallies took place in other towns. Speakers at the Derry rally included assistant general secretary of the PCS, Chris Baugh.
The new anti-cuts Network of Trade Union Activists held a meeting in the evening in Belfast which was well attended (the main room was packed and more were downstairs), with Nipsa president Maria Morgan and vice president Padraig Mulholland speaking, and also Chris Baugh.
Brighton: Around 10,000 people marched, the biggest demonstration at least since the miners' strike of 1984-85. Three feeder demonstrations of between 500-700 people each joined the demonstration in town from Moulscoomb, Whitehawk and Hove
Many workplaces were shut outright. The Jobcentre was barely open, Brighton University was shut, council services from council offices to the bin depot practically stopped for the day, most schools were shut or nominally open.
Phil Clarke of the NUT, along with Tom Hickey, UCU, made the call for an escalation of the action if the government does not back down. They called for a 48 hour all-out public sector strike.
The rally received support from Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP, one of the few MPs to stand side by side with the strikers. However, although the local Green Party delayed releasing their council budget proposals by one day due to the strike, it is clear that they have no strategy to fight the £20 million of cuts imposed by the government this year.
The demonstration on 30th November is proof that the working class of Brighton and Hove will fight against injustice, including cuts in council spending!
Exeter: Thousands were on strike. All the schools were closed, there were large pickets outside the RD&E hospital and the college, while TV news was forced to read the weather reports from internet sources due to the disruption of the strike by Met Office workers. Over 4,000 people marched through the city centre to a packed rally at St James' Park. Here, speaker after speaker lambasted the public sector pension attacks.
It was a shame though that only a few speakers made the link between the attacks on the working class and the fact the rich are still getting richer, showing the contradictions of capitalism. The Labour Party speaker meekly apologised for his party's lukewarm support and said that the Exeter Labour Party was behind the workers.
However, the fact that the Labour Exeter City Council is making cuts won't be lost on many of the crowd. It was unfortunate that only one speaker discussed the complete lack of working class political representation - just when we need it most. Luckily the mood of the crowd was better than the political content of the speeches.
Derbyshire/Notts: General impression was bigger pickets and more strikers at PCS workplaces than on previous strikes. 700+ marched in Chesterfield - the biggest demo since the miners' strike. At Chesterfield town hall, activists said several workers had struck saying they would only give one day, but turnout was solid. 90% were out at Bolsover district council (and a similar high figure at Mansfield). There was wide support, but not universal, among pickets and demonstrators for the TUC to name the next day of action.
North East: On Tyneside the demonstration was phenomenal. Up to 10,000 strikers, from an estimated 30 trade unions, including the Society of Chiropodist and Podiatrists, were applauded by onlookers, as they marched from Gateshead to Newcastle. Many on the march commented that they had never seen such a show of trade union strength on Tyneside before. It was also clear that strikers understood that this was only a warning shot, and were preparing for future action in the new year.
One home-made banner parodied Marx: "From each according to their vulnerability; To each according to their greed". This slogan summed up the outrage felt by workers facing austerity measures, whilst bosses and bankers line their pockets. At the rally the loudest applause was for the rousing speech from Bob Crow. He denounced Ed Miliband for the lack of support, then made a thinly veiled swipe at unions still financing New Labour. Crow also pointed out the necessity of a 24-hour general strike, to include both public and private sector workers.
Across the region thousands more were on the march in Carlisle, Middlesbrough and elsewhere. Strikers would no doubt be scathing of Cameron's description of the strike as a 'damp squib'.
Earlier in the day Socialist Party members visited picket lines across the region. We started at 4.30am outside the Tyne and Wear Metro Control Centre, where striking RMT and Unite members were picketing. The mood was buoyant and passing vehicles were tooting their support. At Gateshead's Queen Elizabeth's hospital there was a determined mood - today was just the start. Police on the picket line were clearly supportive of the strike. One of them agreed that they too should have the right to strike. Elaine Brunskill
For reports from Scotland, see http://www.socialistpartyscotland.org.uk/
Stoke: NHS worker Jo reported "There were about 500 at the rally with over 20 different union banners on display. "Different speakers at the rally said 'We are prepared to take further action', 'It's a fight we can win', 'This is a weak government with no mandate', 'This is an attack on pensions but it's about much more - attacks on the most vulnerable, attacks on the public sector, attacks on what we have struggled for, for working people', 'We are 99% - we believe that we can win'."
Pete Rofe for PCS DWP spoke about the attacks being carried out by the government and FBU rep Brian Moss told the rally that next time public sector workers are on strike firefighters would be with them.
Steve, a Unison Health rep and Socialist Party member, after he had spoken at the rally, commented "Whilst workers are threatened with cuts to jobs, wages and pensions, top executives award themselves 48% wage increases. "Private sector workers need to join the campaign for better pensions for all workers. RCN members should push for an early ballot for strike action so that next time they are on the picket line with us instead crossing it."
18.21 Reading: 30th November saw the highest turnout of trade unionists in Reading and Bracknell since the 1980s or even longer. There were well supported picket lines involving many unions including Unison, GMB, Unite, NUT, UCU, Napo, etc, with large rallies and marches. The day culminated in a large rally in Forbury Gardens of over 2,000. There were well received speeches from trade unions as well as the National Pensioners Convention. The Socialist Party participated with posters, newspapers and leaflets. We had stalls at the start and conclusion of the march, with many new and enthusiastic comrades getting involved. This has been a historic day in Reading and Bracknell and it is just the beginning of a long, bitter struggle which we must win. Terry Pearce
16.30 Kent: Thousands of trade unionists all over Kent braved the bitter cold to be on picket lines, march and protest in defence of their pensions and the services they work every day to provide. Rallies and marches involving over 3,000 striking workers and supporters in Medway, Canterbury, Maidstone, Thanet and Dover were absolutely unequivocal in the message to the architects of this pension robbery - we will strike again and again until this government is forced to back down or is forced out altogether.
Socialist Party members in Kent have offered our total support to the strikes, today taking part in and speaking at four mass rallies as well as visiting 30 picket lines to offer solidarity. It is clear now that this government coalition has a fight on its hands and the TUC and the trade union leaders need to back their members in further action. Adam Dudley
16.10 Aylesbury and Wycombe: We saw the largest labour movement demonstrations for generations. Workers from the NHS, teaching professions, civil servants, probation and local government joined together in a show of strength not seen for over 30 years. The demonstrations and picket line strength exceeded organisers' epectations and there was a clear understanding that this was just the begining and not the end. All were enthused and were going back into the workplace confident in taking the message out to their colleagues who weren't out today. There was an openness to socialist ideas and the sales of the Socialist were the largest ever. Socialist party members were interviewed on the televison and local press. Steve Bell
16.00 Huddersfield: A demonstration of 2,500 people, the biggest in living memory in the town, was just one of the highlights of a thoroughly effective day of public sector strike action in Huddersfield. Earlier in the morning picket lines were set up all over the town centre - too many to count and all well stocked with members, supporters and visual aids.
The Socialist Party's leaflet calling for further action was given an echo at every picket, with most accepting that one day alone is unlikely to bring down the government's plans.
At the university, one UCU member argued: "The pension really isn't the biggest issue for me. I'm out here in protest at each and every plan this Tory government is making to attack the public sector. "I'm happy to come out under this issue but we need to push for as many public demonstrations and loud action as we can so the government will be unable to ignore our demand that they stop all their cutting plans".
Further into town at the magistrates court PCS members were making the point that Kirklees council is closing the court in Dewsbury and moving services to Huddersfield - cutting jobs while they are at it. The Socialist Party's public meeting after the rally attracted about 20 strikers and supporters including many who were at their first party meeting. Ian Slattery
15.48 Bury: This is the new Winter of Discontent. I feel very proud to be a public sector worker today standing up to the government's attack. The march in Bury was attended by public sector workers across the board (teachers, nurses, council staff etc). People who deserve to be treated fairly. The march had a carnival atmosphere, with plenty of children blowing whistles and supporting their family. Local people waved and beeped their horns in support. My favourite placards were 'Eric Pickles ate my pension' and 'Hands off my assets'. Adam Bernard
15.40 Oldham: There were 1,000-1,500 on the Oldham demo. Local Labour MP Michael Meacher stated that the strike is fully justified. There was a good turnout on picket lines but agency staff workers at the council have been threatened with the sack. Andy Martin
15.35 Sheffield: Around 5,000 people attended the Sheffield demonstration. Speakers at the main TUC rally included Marion Lloyd from the PCS.
15.30 West Wales: Over 400 trade unionists came to the march and rally in the county town of Carmarthen in West Wales. Carmarthenshire Unison, NUT, Unite, Nasuwt and PCS banners were prominent. At the rally, Socialist Party members were to the forefront with Scott Jones, a young Usdaw rep bringing fraternal greetings from Youth Fight for Jobs. Caroline Butchers from Carmarthenshire NUT called on the TUC to step up the action by naming the day for national coordinated action in the New Year, if the government don't back down over their pension proposals.
Mark Evans, Carmarthenshire Unison branch secretary, got the most enthusiastic response from demonstrators when he outlined the fighting lead the Unison branch were taking. Earlier, successful pickets were held in Llanelli, Ammanford and Carmarthen and there was an enthusiastic response to Socialist Party material from pickets, many of whom were picketing for the first time. Rob Owen
15.25 Hertford: The streets of Hertford have not seen anything like it since the Poll Tax, just under 2,500 marched to County Hall. This followed pickets all over Hertfordshire. This was the biggest strike action for a generation. The speakers pointed out that this battle must be continued until the government gives in. The biggest cheers came when speakers attacked the bankers for getting us into this mess in the first place.
15.15 Hull: Around 4,000 public sector workers, students, unemployed and pensioners took part in an inspiring demonstration in Hull. Picket lines across the city's public facilities were undeterred and the mood amongst strikers was upbeat as well as angry. A number of workers from a range of workplaces told us that far fewer colleagues were crossing picket lines than in other recent strikes.
The Yorkshire TUC-led rally saw Hull Socialist Party members sell 77 copies of The Socialist, as well as collect countless donations. Dozens said they may attend our public meeting on Tuesday and many indicated that they may join the party. Following the rally, a march around the city centre drew fantastic levels of support from shopworkers and shoppers. At one point, the end of the march was not visible from the front over 200 yards of open ground around Queen's Gardens.
When the march returned to Victoria Square, a second, local rally was held with a variety of local speakers, including Hull Youth Fight for Jobs activist Matt Whale. Matt spoke about the need to fight for increased funding, through the taxation of the super-rich, to fund not just public sector pensions, but to increase them and ensure a living pension for private sector workers also. One person compared Matt to "a young Tony Benn"! Such a great day has inspired those who took part, and now the message to the Con-Dems from public sector workers in Hull is clear: "We will not pay for your crisis with our jobs, pensions or our children's futures!" Alex Humphreys
15.09 London: Socialist Party members in London have visited (and in some cases helped to organise) in excess of 250 picket lines today. The London demonstration has been fantastic, with thousands of first-time strikers. What a historic day. Paula Mitchell
15.05 London: Hackney town hall had the biggest picket line since the year 2000 local dispute when the workforce was bigger. There have been more picket lines than I've ever seen in Hackney. The health turnout has been really big too, at least 300 have marched and protested at the hospitals. Brian Debus
14.35 Southampton: Over 5,000 trade unionists were applauded by the public as they marched through the city. PCS branch secretary at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Andy Cooper, says: "The TUC should name the next strike date tonight on the news". Picket lines across the city report strong support for the strike. Kevin Hayes commented "It was the biggest demonstration Southampton has had for decades. It was young. It was noisy. Many taking part for the first time. This truly is a beginning. Socialist Party members played a full part, with leaflets that addressed the question 'where now, what next?".
14.20 Leeds: Around 7,000 have demonstrated. Socialist Party member Iain Dalton addressed the rally from the main platform as a representative of the local TUC youth forum, speaking particularly about the campaigning work of Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ). One person gave a donation of £50 to YFJ. 30 attended a post-demo local meeting of the National Shop Stewards Network.
14.20 Luton: 400 participated in a march and rally in the town centre.
14.02 West London, Ealing: Strikers from picket lines all over Ealing gathered mid morning on the steps of Ealing town hall. Delegations from all the major unions and many others were addressed by megaphone by local representatives, including Matt Campbell, a Socialist Party member of the Socialist Students society at West London university, and Tracy Edwards of the PCS. They then all marched to Ealing Broadway tube where they were joined by many others on the way to the mass gathering at Lincolns Inn Fields.
14.02 Nottingham: Over 10,000 marched. The TUC rally only allowed 900 people in! Many cars on the main road beeped their support. The message from the marchers is that this is only the first step in the fight! NB: At Nottingham university two students were removed from the campus by security just for giving out leaflets (on a university bus) about today's strike action.
13.53 Leicester: The public lining the streets clapped as over 5,000 public sector workers marched through Leicester. It was the biggest demo locally in living memory! Thousands of people taking action for the first time were joined by veterans of past struggles who felt revitalised by the mood. Everyone was bouyed up by the response. One Unison member said "It makes you realise how strong we are!"
13.36 Lincoln: The police estimate 1,000 marchers in Lincoln, the biggest demo the city has seen.
13.35 A text message: "I am not in the public sector but I delivered hot tea and coffee to the picket lines in solidarity".
13.28 South West Scotland: Pickets at the staff entrance to Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary include porters, cleaning staff and some nursing staff. Many other nursing staff and doctors would like to join the strike action and give their support, however are continuing to work so as not to put patients at risk. A training day has been declared for other staff, in an attempt to reduce the number officially on strike. Accident and Emergency is running as normal, non urgent surgery as been moved to other days. An A&E doctor
13.20 London: The regional demo at Lincoln's Inn Fields is HEAVING, there are so many people there's no room for them all. There's never been a demo like it in this square. It just doesn't fit in!
13.10 Wormwood Scrubs prison: With the prison officers' legal strike ban supported by the Con-Dems and introduced by Labour, the prison workers expressed their anger and solidarity with other public sector workers by holding meetings in their own time. This lunchtime meeting attended by aroung 100, followed a meeting prior to work in the morning chaired and addressed by POA branch chairman Alan Gourley, and Vanessa Frake of the Prisoner Governors Association, followed by Keith Dickinson of the Socialist Party.
13.10 Derby: On the demo a Labour councillor started chanting "Nick Clegg, shame on you for turning blue". Marchers around him shouted back "What about Ed Miliband turning blue?".
13.03 Bristol: The police are estimating that there are 20,000 people on the Bristol demo. We think it's at least 30,000, the largest trade union demo since 1932! Some other estimates in the South West are, Exeter - 4,000, Taunton - 2,000, Gloucester - 3,000, Truro - 4,000
13.00 Basildon: 200+ members and supporters of public sector unions including Unison in health, local government and education, Unite, PCS, FBU, NUT and UCU gathered for an 11am rally in Basildon town centre, followed by an impromptu march to the council offices. This was the biggest demonstration in this town since Thatcher was in government. Speakers from Unison, Unite, UCU, PCS and the Socialist Party debunked the arguments against the unions' pensions campaign and made a case for building on today's action. The mood was cheerful but militant, with a generally supportive response from local shoppers. Picket lines were generally well supported, with 90 plus at the hospital, and groups of pickets at all major local government and health workplaces. Dave Murray
12.42 London: Nick Wrack from the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) reports that he has asked 39 people at three picket lines to sign the TUSC petition to support the standing of anti-cuts candidates in the 2012 Greater London Assembly elections. One was a Green candidate and one was a Labour Party member. The other 37 all signed and there were some great discussions about the need for a new party that speaks for us.
12.40 Aylesbury: The Aylesbury demo was immense! Must have been 400 or more, from local government, the health service, teachers and civil servants. They couldn't all fit in the venue for the rally. Speakers from the RMT and FBU expressed support at the rally. Socialist Party members sold out of papers and we could have handed out 3 or 4 times the number of leaflets we had.
12.32 Warrington: About 700 on the Warrington demo. Socialist Party member Andy Ford received great applause at the demo when he said: "We beat the Poll Tax and we can beat these attacks too".
12.21 London: Tower Hamlets strikers marched through the City, and joined up with St Paul's Occupiers, we're now on our way to Lincoln's Inn Fields for the regional demonstration.
12.21 Manchester: The Manchester march is at least a mile long. Certainly 30,000 but could be anything up to 50,000, the biggest workers' demo for decades. The Salford feeder march is the biggest Salford demo since the 1920s.
Reports received on Wednesday morning - up to 12 noon (latest at bottom)
6.55am London Construction workers' protest: Good mood at sparks' picket after 81% vote to strike. Big police presence though.
7.07am Manchester Met university: Strong Unison and UCU picket line, porters report very little traffic and no one in work, a solid strike.
7.20am London construction workers' protest: Demo getting bigger. Word from the sparks at Blackfriars is that the whole site will shut in strike action next Wednesday.
7.20am London, Houses of Parliament: Pickets out at Parliament. PCS and GMB flags decorate front gate in the shadow of Big Ben. Pickets take photos for the history books.
7.30am Liverpool: PCS and Socialist Party member Steve Heyward says "Good luck and solidarity from Everton job centres picket line. Let's show them what we are made of!
7.35am Birmingham: PCS president Janice Godrich tweets "Off to visit picket line at Selly Oak job centre, the office I started work at 30 years ago and where I first became a rep".
7.38am London: Unison pickets on Westminster City Hall set up shop on both sides of the road. Plenty of people taking leaflets explaining about the strike.
7.44am South London: National Union of Teachers executive member Martin Powell Davies on a picket line in Lewisham tells LBC radio "We can't work until we are 68!".
8.06am London: PCS banner unveiled at Houses of Parliament picket line.
8.06am Hackney, London: UCU members and Unison members are jointly picketing Hackney College.
8.06am, Hackney, London: Hoxton job centre pickets expect a solid strike as 90% of the centre's workers are in the PCS. Two new members joined yesterday to take part in the strike.
8.07am Coventry: Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist tweets "30 Nov 2011, an historic day. Solidarity to all N30 strikers. Rise like lions after slumber... Ye are many, they are few".
8.15am: Manchester: Electricians continuing to protest at Manchester Town Hall, buoyed by BBES (Balfour) ballot result, though a stacker truck tried to run over one protester!
8.43am Manchester: Unite pickets cheery at Tenants Services Authority in the city centre. Striker Kerry says: "Support really good, the public is very responsive, so far so good!"
8.49am London: PCS members outside the Department for Energy and Climate Change say that they had members joining last night at 5pm after hearing George Osborne speak on the news: "It's the final straw" they said. FDA, PCS and Prospect members all on the picket line outside the Ministry of Defence and Department of Health. Strong, united mood. MOD picketers say there are 'loads less' workers going into work. A really buoyant mood, with everybody being stopped to talk.
9.32am London: Strong picket line outside Millbank Tower.
9.35am Merseyside: A Unison member reports that the strike is going well in Halton.
9.36am Manchester: A big picket of PCS members at Manchester civil courts with a lot of anger at Osbourne on the issue of pay. HMRC pickets report 90% staff on strike.
9.37am London: Spirits are high at the front gate of Kings College Hospital, passing cars are honking support. 90% of physios are out today, with only emergency cover provided. When a passer-by said they would like to make a donation and asked "which union is this?", a striker's reply was "it doesn't matter, we're all out today!"
10.40am East London: UCU pickets covered every entrance to Queen Mary University at the Mile End campus. There are more pickets than the last strike - some entrances that had 2-3 pickets before now have 5-6 and significantly fewer students have gone in this time, reflecting the student campaign to support striking lecturers which this time has the support and resources of the student union. Students turned up at 7am to give solidarity to the pickets and help convince others not to cross the picket line. The biggest gathering, at east gate, had over 20 students and student union sabbaticals on it. Quite a few people agreed to turn back, including a delivery lorry. Naomi Byron
10.40am Lincoln: Facilities staff at Lincoln County Hospital are reporting nearly 100% support for the strike
10.40am A text message: "I work in the private sector but have taken the day off to support public sector pensions"
10.53am West London: At Ealing revenue office there are 70% on strike, with excellent support from the public. Even the police came over to support the picketers and said they wished they could strike too! Local PCS rep Mark Benjamin is being interviewed on BBC London.
11.11am South London: Amazing turnout for the strike in Peckham jobcentreplus, 85% were turned away.
11.17am Comment of a Unison striker on the chancellor's announcement of a 1% cap on public sector pay rises for two years: "The issue of pay will get everyone out again. I mean, 1%? People can't live!".
11.26am South West: In Torquay there are picket lines of over 50, and a march of 500 to a rally; this is a first for South Devon.
11.31 Derby: Around 2,000 people are assembling for the Derby strike demonstration. There are flags from the PCS, Unison, UCU, NUT, Nasuwt, FBU, Unite, and RCN. There's lots of support for the demand for the TUC to call the next day of action.
11.38am London: 500 strikers have rallied at the Royal London Hospital. The unions Unison, Unite, UCU, NUT and more are represented. We are now marching along Whitechapel High Street to join the regional demo.
11.38am Nottingham: The march in Nottingham has just started with 2-3,000 on it. It will bring the city centre to a standstill. This has to be the largest demo in Nottingham for many many years.
11.47 Manchester: Tens of thousands on Manchester demo.
11.50am London: Osborne's announcement yesterday meant that all the legal advisors in the magistrates courts said "That's it now, we're not going into work". At the Old Bailey, Imran Khan, solicitor in the Stephen Lawrence case, wore a PCS badge into court. Woolwich crown court has cancelled all hearings, as has the Inner London court. At Snaresbrook, only six courts out of 20 are sitting, with no trials.
11.50am Prospect union tweet: "We're signing up new members on the picket lines, and they're joining the strike action straight away!"
11.50am Southampton: A radiologist was asked by management what the union meant by emergency cover. A union steward replied, "Imagine it's a Sunday and you're on the golf course, do YOU come in?"
11.50am London: People are flooding into the London demo. The starting point won't be big enough.