Biggest union demo for a decade
THOUSANDS of workers from across the country joined the biggest union demonstration for a decade in support of the firefighters.The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said 20,000 people took part in a march and rally in London on Saturday in a huge display of solidarity, including firefighters from Suffolk.
THOUSANDS of workers from across the country joined the biggest union demonstration for a decade in support of the firefighters.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said 20,000 people took part in a march and rally in London on Saturday in a huge display of solidarity, including firefighters from Suffolk.
Off-duty firefighters, many wearing their distinctive fire uniforms and some with their wives and children, joined teachers, civil servants, train drivers and workers from many other professions at the demonstration.
The march stretched back several hundred yards and passed bemused Christmas shoppers in Piccadilly as it made its way to Hyde Park.
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Hundreds of tourists and shoppers signed petitions backing the FBU's pay claim, while taxi drivers and other motorists tooted in support, despite being held up in traffic jams because of the march.
Paul Woolstenholmes, secretary of the Suffolk branch of the FBU, and his son Conall, six, were among a small group of marchers from Ipswich who went on the march.
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"I do not think the Government are willing to listen to anybody, not just the FBU, but it is the whole public sector," he said.
Mr Woolstenholmes added about £9,500 has been donated by the public to firefighters in Suffolk as they prepared for a difficult festive season after receiving no pay on strike days.
The donations will go to the Severe Hardship Fund and will be handed out to firefighters in dire need of money, but it will not be paying for lost wages.
Teresa MacKay, secretary of the Ipswich Trades Council, said it was fully supportive of the firefighters and their claim and added there was concern the Government's stance could ultimately affect the rest of the public sector.
The march was addressed by FBU general secretary Andy Gilchrist, who warned the Government not to interfere again in the pay dispute or face the prospect of further strikes.