Up to 2 million workers are set to strike together on Thursday in a massive show of solidarity against the government and its austerity program. Fire-fighters, Teaching assistants, refuse collectors, teachers, home helps, social workers, catering workers, environmental health officers and many more are set to join the walkout on Thursday July 10th. Local government workers in Unison, GMB and Unite unions, teachers in the NUT union as well as most recently members of the Fire Brigades Union have now said they will strike on 10 July.
The insulting offer of a 1 percent pay rise after years of a pay freeze has low paid public sector workers gearing up for a fight.
“There is deep anger at this governments’ assault on public services. This is not just about pay,” said local Labour Councillor & Unite member Leigh Redman. “It’s about the pressure of huge workloads, the targets culture and the stress of bullying managers. People have had enough. Across Britain spending cuts have decimated local services. By 2015/16 the Con/Dem government will have hacked £11.3 billion from local government funds in England alone.”
Some £737 million has been cut as a result of capping public sector pay rises to 1 percent in the last two years.
The strike could be the biggest since the pensions dispute, which saw the first joint union walkout on 30 June 2011 and led to the mass strike on 30th November of that year.
On the day it will mean government departments like Tax and revenue offices are closed along with Job Centres, benefit offices, Courts and Driving test centres being closed. These will be alongside those closures of Schools because of striking teachers, local government services because of striking council workers and closed fire stations because of Fire-fighters also taking action.
The focus of the action will be at the pay freezes set upon by the government over the public sector workers. Bridgwater Trades council and retired PCS Julian Tomlin said, “Ministers praise public servants for their hard work and dedication but at the same time they are slashing their living standards. Instead of warm words, public sector workers need a pay rise.”
The long-running dispute over fire fighters’ pensions will see a further day of strikes at the same time. The Firefighter strike will last between 10am and 7pm and will be the fifteenth in the FBU’s campaign. Tam McFarlane, South West FBU official, said “The FBU has wanted to settle our dispute for a long time, but the Government at Westminster is simply not listening. We are therefore proud to take strike action alongside our colleagues in other unions on 10 July. The fact that this government has united so many workers to take strike action against them is a testament to the failure of their policies. They are destroying our public services and wrecking the lives of millions. If they won’t listen and won’t negotiate then this is the result — and they should face more of the same if necessary.”
Cllr Mick Lerry, Labour leader on Sedgemoor District Council and Parliamentary candidate for Bridgwater and West Somerset said “Unions taking strike action on Thursday 10th July are in dispute with their employers and they are using their democratic right to take strike action. Many of these Unions are also standing up for the public service they provide. The Government must realise that they have a responsibility to meet with the Unions to discuss their grievances and to make sure that there are good employee relations, rather than complaining about the action Unions take”.