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Protesters march through York
PROTESTERS marched through York as part of a national day of public sector pension strikes.
About 30 public sector workers and union representatives gathered at the Eye of York then held a rally in Parliament Street at lunchtime today as thousands of public sector workers went on strike across the region.
The Government says current pension schemes are unaffordable because people are living longer but the unions claim members will have to pay more and work longer for lower pensions.
Factory worker and student Ben Mayor said: "Public sector workers are taking strike action in defiance of government plans to change their pension policy, making workers pay more get less and work longer. However, this isn't the only reason: if you ask workers, we are angry about privatisation and cuts to services that communities rely on and are determined to stop the race to the bottom in wages, pensions and conditions for all workers, public or private.”
Those on strike included the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), the University and College Union (UCU) at York College and York St John, and health workers in UNITE.
John Westmoreland, a UCU rep at York College, said: “The Government is trying to legitimise its economic austerity measures by proposing cuts to public sector pensions. Their own figures show that the pension reforms in 2006 are supportable, so they must be doing this for ideological reasons - to privatise the public sector, not economic ones. It’s damaging the professionalism of teaching and forcing us onto temporary contracts.”
Ian Craven, of the PCS union from Imphal Barracks, said: “We intend to maintain the momentum of our campaign as there has been no movement from the Government in terms of proper negotiations and the only way we can overcome that intransigence to to raise the profile of our plight.”
Graham Martin, an organiser for the ‘York Stop the Cuts’ campaign, said: “Today is about keeping the issue of pensions, and wider public sector issues, alive whilst sending the Government a message that these aren’t issues that have gone away. For many, it’s about showing support for the unions involved in protest.”
He said he expected a bigger turn-out but said exams had deterred some students.