MORE than 200 trade unionists marched through York city centre in protest at pay, pensions and cuts in public services.
Members of unions including the National Union of Teachers (NUT), Unison, Unite, the GMB, and the The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) took part in yesterday’s march, which began by Clifford’s Tower and ended with a rally in St Sampson’s Square.
Shoppers and tourists looked on as marchers chanted: “What do we want? Fair Pay. When do we want it? Now!”
The march coincided with a one-day strike by public sector workers which affected schools and council services across York, North and East Yorkshire.
City of York Council said about ten per cent of its staff took part, with garden waste collections affected in Huntington and Haxby. Residents are being asked to present their waste again in two weeks. Communal recycling was also affected in Holgate Road/Acomb Road, as was kerbside recycling collections in a number of local streets.
Council facilities including Energise and Yearsley Pool and household waste and recycling centres were open as normal, while five primary schools were completely closed, and 12 primary and four secondary schools were partially closed.
Teacher and NUT member Steve Flintoff, who travelled fromScarborough to take part, said the action was not just about the one per cent cap in public sector pay but also about increasing workload and bureaucracy in schools which were resulting in teachers working a 60-hour week.
Emma Green, of Unison, who works for York’s youth offending team, said that as well as pay, she was concerned about the continuing loss of qualified staff which left fewer employees working longer and harder, with an impact on the service they delivered.
Edmund Billing, of the FBU, said that while members were on strike as part of a continuing dispute over pensions, the action was deliberately timed to coincide with strikes by other public sector workers. At the rally, NUT member and Knaresborough teacher Gary Kaye played his guitar to lead marchers in a protest song before Heather McKenzie, who represents Unison members at York council, said: “We are in a desperate position. We have to take a stand.”
Ian Craven, of the PCS, said: “This is a Government made up of the rich, for the rich... the message to the Government is this: end the pay cap or we will be back to strike again.”
The Prime Minister and other senior politicians have attacked the strikes, arguing they were based on ballots conducted some years ago, and the Conservatives are drawing up plans to change employment law so a threshold of those balloted would have to be reached before industrial action could be held.
Who was on strike and on the march yesterday
THE strikers included council staff and school support workers, in unions such as Unison, who had dismissed a one per cent pay offer but who were also protesting against cuts which they said had left too few staff doing too much work.
Civil servants in the PCS union were also involved, with about 150 at Imphal Barracks and another 40 at RAF Linton on Ouse said to be on strike.
Teachers from the NUT were on strike over pay, but were also protesting about rising workloads.
Firefighters from the FBU were taking part in their latest strike in a long-running dispute over pensions and retirement age.