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Posted on 16 May 2012 at 13:22 GMT

M10: Angry workers walk out across the country

PCS members on strike 10 May 2012 outside Parliament, photo Paul Mattsson

PCS members on strike 10 May 2012 outside Parliament, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

In London, Westminster was a sea of pickets. 400 Unite health strikers and supporters marched across Westminster Bridge from St Thomas's hospital to attend a lunchtime rally. 700 strikers heard Mark Serwotka (PCS) and Len McCluskey (Unite).

RMT leader Bob Crow was applauded when he said: "We need the entire trade union movement to link up with the community and all hit by austerity" he urged. He finished with another much applauded call for the TUC general council to call general strike action.

Outside central London, at the Hackney Benefit Centre Amore explained: "I'm retiring on 1 June with that fantastic, 'gold-plated' civil service pension which does not add up to that much. But it's good to be going now. Carrying on until you're 68 is just too long."

At Settles Street NINO (national insurance number processing office) in Tower Hamlets, one manager who has been upgraded and given a 7 per week pay rise, decided to cross the picket line. "Now we know his price, it's pretty cheap", said one of the pickets.

Prison walkouts

Prison officers in the POA walk out on unofficial strike on 10 May 2012 at Wormwood Scrubs, London , photo Keith Dickinson

Prison officers in the POA walk out on unofficial strike on 10 May 2012 at Wormwood Scrubs, London , photo Keith Dickinson   (Click to enlarge)

At Belmarsh prison, 80 officers walked out. When the prison governor threatened disciplinary action, the 40 still working decided to walk out too.

Around 70 walked out at Brixton Prison. UCU and PCS members went to support them.

At Wormwood Scrubs prison, 97% of POA members due on duty didn't go in. All the prison vans were turned away so no prisoners were sent to the Crown and Magistrates courts.

UCU strikers on a picket line in Swansea on 10 May 2012 public sector workers' strike, photo Socialist Party Wales

UCU strikers on a picket line in Swansea on 10 May 2012 public sector workers' strike, photo Socialist Party Wales

In Swansea Socialist Party members visited picket lines at Singleton Hospital, the Pensions Centre, Land Registry, DVLA, Gower College and others.

There was pride at being part of a movement that has refused to buckle but also anger at the leadership of those unions that have held their members back, particularly Unison.

60,000 public sector workers in the North West region were on strike. 400 workers packed into a rally in Liverpool. Printers' spokesperson Terry O'Connor represented 160 workers who have been sacked by international printing conglomerate MMP. He said the workers were still determined to defend their conditions after 16 weeks of industrial action.

Liverpool TUSC mayoral candidate Tony Mulhearn thanked all PCS members and members of other unions who had given him magnificent support during his campaign.

Thousands of PCS union members on Wirral, working in Land Registry, Job Centre Plus, Child Support Agency, County and Magistrate courts and the Lady Lever Art Gallery, took strike action. PCS Land Registry Birkenhead branch had 22 pickets and supporters on the picket line.

Solidarity

Unite Health demo at Manchester Royal Infirmary, during 10 May public sector strike, photo Hugh Caffrey

Unite Health demo at Manchester Royal Infirmary, during 10 May public sector strike, photo Hugh Caffrey   (Click to enlarge)

There were around 100 on a Unite Health demo at Manchester Royal Infirmary, with the Unite members on strike at Central Manchester Foundation Trust joined by Unite members from other local hospitals and NHS Trusts. Unison members on their way into work, and patients at the hospital, joined the demonstration to show their support.

In Sheffield over 200 strikers came together for a rally outside the town hall. About 20 PCS members joined a dozen striking Aslef members protesting outside Sheffield railway station. They were on their fourth strike day against East Midland Trains' attack on their pensions.

Youth Fight for Jobs had a noisy contingent on the Leeds demonstration and at Leeds Trinity University College Socialist Students members joined the picket line.

Richard Chamberlain, POA branch chair at HMP Leeds said: "We're protesting against the retirement age of prison officers which is now being confirmed and verified at 68. We don't feel that's safe, practical or realistic."

Members of newly formed Leeds teaching hospitals unite branch picketing outside Leeds General Infirmary, photo Iain Dalton

Members of newly formed Leeds teaching hospitals unite branch picketing outside Leeds General Infirmary, photo Iain Dalton   (Click to enlarge)

300 attended a Leeds strike rally where Socialist Party member and PCS vice-president John McInally finished a storming speech with a call for more coordinated, national industrial action.

He said: "The elections in France and Greece show austerity is being rejected throughout Europe. The local government elections represented a vote against austerity, not a vote for the Labour Party formulation that supports the same cuts as the government but 'not so fast, not so deep'.

"There is no justification for any cuts whatsoever... The tide is turning, and it's turning in our favour. Now is the time to re-double our efforts by building in the workplaces and in our communities too... let's have confidence in our collective power."

There was a good mood on the picket lines in Exeter. PCS and UCU members leafleted the town, getting great support. A rally heard representatives of the striking unions, including a Socialist Party member.

Winchester University UCU picketed the King Alfred campus. PCS pickets were out in Southampton at HMRC and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

PCS rep Andy at MCA said: "Frances Maude says strikes are futile. Anything but. We can't afford to back down."

In Brighton there were 20 on a picket at the Royal Sussex hospital. There were pickets at Brighton City college, three at the university, the Job Centre (with the benefits claimants group joining the picket), the courts, and HMRC. In Lewes there were 25 picketing the Sussex Coast college.

PCS at the DWP and Courts in Canterbury were out and the UCU at Canterbury College. In Folkestone, PCS were out at the Customs for the Eurostar, and Dover Port reported the same.

Pension theft

There were lively picket lines around the Nottingham HMRC buildings. Pickets were dressed as robbers to represent the Tories' pension theft.

Following the mass walkout from HMP Nottingham, about 100 prison officers were on a picket line with PCS members.

There were over 300 at a rally in Nottingham city centre, joined by striking Aslef members from East Midlands trains.

In Birmingham there was a rally at the main hospital and a demo through the university campus. Unison sent a message of support and a large round of applause greeted someone from the audience asking why Unison weren't on strike.

In Belfast, Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (Nipsa) and PCS members took coordinated strike action. There were 300 at an indoor rally. Socialist Party member Billy Lynn, chairperson of the civil service executive committee for Nipsa explained a strategy of escalating united action to defeat the Tories' austerity agenda.

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