Video: Public sector unions strike over pay and pensions

Harvey Crane organized Suffolk Needs a Pay Rise rally and march in Ipswich Town Centre on Thursday,

Harvey Crane organized Suffolk Needs a Pay Rise rally and march in Ipswich Town Centre on Thursday, 10 July. - Credit: Su Anderson

Public sectors workers from a wide range of services are today holding a one-day strike to protest about government pay restraint.

In Ipswich hundreds of workers from UNISON, Unite, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), NUT, and the Fire Brigades U gathered for a march through the town centre to bring attention to their call.

Ipswich Trades Union Council chairman Harvey Crane, who is also an official with PCS, said public servants across the country were angry about the way they had been treated.

He said: “We have had a pay freeze for four years and now we are being promised an average rise of 1%. But that is an average rise – I’m only getting half a per cent.

“Across the region people are getting more and more angry. We are now being told that the economy is recovering, but we are not able to benefit from that recovery.”

UNISON representative at the borough council David Rowe said public sector workers had seen their real wages fall by 20% over the last five years: “This is something that can not carry on.”

The strike affected 59 schools across Suffolk, with 17 being closed altogether. Fire cover was affected and there was some reduction in council services in Ipswich.

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Some homes in the south east of the town did not have their rubbish collected as they were due – householders were asked to keep their bins out with the promise that they should be emptied as soon as possible.

Streets in the town centre were being cleaned as usual, but some neighbourhoods were not getting the visit that they are due from streetcleaners.

Ipswich Conservative MP Ben Gummer attacked the strikes on three grounds:

He said public sector workers had fared better than the private sector during the recession.

He said striking teachers were damaging the education of the children in their classes.

And he said the government was taking action to clamp down on tax avoidance by the rich and to help the low paid.

“This government has lifted two million people out of paying income tax altogether and the gap between rich and poor is getting smaller for the first time in 20 years.”

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