On the eve of the 30th November I, like many other public sector
workers in Worcester, was making sandwiches, filling flasks full of
coffee and digging out themal T shirts ready for cold picket lines.The
pickets were set up before sunrise at the hospitals in Worcestershire.
On the eve of the 30th November I, like many other public sector workers in Worcester, was making sandwiches, filling flasks full of coffee and digging out themal T shirts ready for cold picket lines.The pickets were set up before sunrise at the hospitals in Worcestershire. A lot of activists turned out, but unfortunately last minute scare emails sent out by management told staff they would be breaking the law if more than six were picketing and that continuity of service would be broken if they participated in the strike.
However, the pickets did as much as they could to explain the case to hospital workers and maintain the picket line until 10.00. How could we measure our success or failure? Simply look at the staff car park! The number of parking bays vacant, an unseen sight on a normal day, indicated that a large number had heeded the call to stay away.
So after a warming cup of coffee we all set off for a march and rally in Worcester city centre. Worcester Trades Union Council (WTUC) had organised the rally to take place in ‘Tramps’ a nightclub, more famous for a Monday night venue for eliminated X Factor contestants to perform in than a venue for the labour movement, and with a capcity of 1,250 it was a high risk strategy whether it could be filled.
This was such an issue that it nearly split the WTUC in half with a section prefering a smaller hall with a capacity of only 155, but the trade union activists that had been involved in the 30th June strike were confident that we would need a hall larger than 250. So it was heart warming that as we reached the assembly point the street was occupied with 650 public sector workers plus families.
The march set off with trade union banners, flags and placards visible to all. The majority of shoppers applauded as we passed by. The only ugly insident was someone who had swallowed the Tory lies hanranguing the marchers. The irony here is if his blood pressure had got any higher, he would have had to rely on the paramedics in the march to keep him going. The march snaked out along the High Street to become the biggest labour movement march ever seen in Worcester.
It took over 35 minutes for the marchers to file in and take their seats before the rally could begin. Keynote speakers addressing the packed nightclub included Kevin Greenway of the PCS NEC who told the rally that they should be proud to say enough is enough while Ian Lawrence, NAPO Assistant General Secretary, said, “Shame on the Labour Party for not backing the strikers 100%”.
Max Hyde, NUT NEC, making a return visit to Worcester after having addresed a rally of 350 in June, said. “It is not about pensions but about fairness. Public sector workers were being made to pay for a problem caused by bankers”. To answer the question of the public versus private workers Max said, “We don’t want equallity of misery. We want equality for all public and private workers, decent pensions for all.”
The meeting finished with a rallying call that this is not the end but the start of future actions to defend pensions, including rolling strikes. It is unfortunate that the chair rapidly closed the meeting rather than allowing contributions from the floor.
Teachers, healthcare workers, local government workers and civil servants all sang out in Worcester with one voice that said we are not going to accept the destruction of our pension rights. Such was the harmony shown that in the catchphase of the X Factor show “we nailed it” and the Tories should be aware for we all have the X Factor.
Unison Worcestershire Acute Hospitals, Personal Capacity