Sunday, 4 December 2011

Strike Special - Northumberlands' Day of Action

On 30th November we saw the Public Sector workers of Northumberland come together in an unprecedented show of solidarity with a total of 22 picket lines. Anyone passing picket lines seen the strength and solidarity we showed on the morning of the strike. At Gateshead, where we took 3 coaches of activists and members, there was a sea of purple and green, a tidal wave of flags and deafened by a cacophony of vuvuzela’s and whistles. The Northern regions message to David Cameron was clear, ‘We have had enough!"

Commenting on the 30th November, Branch Secretaries’ Ian Fleming and Joyce Guthrie said  “it was a great and proud day to see so many UNISON members stand side by side on the picket lines and to see the UNISON colours lead the way at the March in Gateshead, the public applause was very heartening and it clearly showed the public do support our fight.”

At the Rally at Spillers Wharf, speakers from the participating unions all had a similar message. The attack on our pensions is unfair and unjustified. Many of us have been subjected to a pay freeze for at least two years and have now been told that any wage rise will be capped at 1%. This means that in real terms our standard of living is eroded even further than it already has been. To then ask us to pay more for our pensions is ludicrous. Many of our members are already struggling to make ends meet as prices soar and the cost of living rises on an almost daily basis.

Many of the members UNISON represent are low paid, part time women who, rather than claim benefits, fit work around child care and family commitments. David Cameron now wants to penalise them by taking away what little security they manage to accrue for the future. The average pension for these people is less than £4,000 per year under the current scheme and to erode the schemes further will leave many of us struggling in our retirement.

As a branch we would like to say an enormous thank you to all those who turned out to show support, especially those who manned picket lines from very early in the morning. There was much stamping feet and rubbing of hands in the cold morning air, but the overwhelming attitude was one of determination and tenacity. We are not prepared to let the Con-Dem’s win this battle. Let’s hope that the Government will now see sense and enter into meaningful consultation with our negotiators.

A number of pictures were taken on the 30th November and these will be available soon on our website at

Joyce Guthrie & Ian Fleming,
Joint Branch Secretaries

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