Striking staff take protest to streets
5:00am Thursday 10th July 2014 in By Mike Benke, @Michael_Benke
HUNDREDS of striking workers are set to gather in the town centre today as a show of solidarity against the government.
Local government workers, firefighters and teachers are taking action following a number of long running disputes over issues such as pay, pensions and working conditions.
From midday members of the GMB, Unite, Unison, NUT, PCS and the FBU will be gathering at the Cenotaph to send a message of unity.
Throughout the day there will be speakers from union representatives as well as an open mic session for workers to air their grievances.
The unions say the day of action follows many attempts to negotiate with the government which they say have been rebuffed, leaving them no other choice.
Council workers are taking action after they have received no pay increase for a number of years and the unions say the time has come to take a stand.
Chris Watts, the Branch President for Swindon and Wiltshire GMB, said: “We have been left no other choice. We have tried to negotiate with the government and they do not seem too interested.
“No one wants to go on strike but we have to send a strong message to the government.
“For example, last week we contacted the government offering talks to avert the strikes but instead of getting a response, a message was sent out that we were weakening our position which is simply not the case. All the unions want to do is sit down and get a fairer deal for their members.”
Because there are so many unions going on strike and taking part in the rally it is not possible to predict numbers but hundreds are expected to attend.
“These are the lowest paid workers who are doing vital jobs, such as teaching assistants, carers and bin collectors,” said Chris.
“They have not had a pay rise for four years during a period of cuts and we have seen those at the top of the pile benefit. It has proved that we are not all in this together and the time has come for us to say enough is enough.”
A number of schools will be shut throughout the day while Wiltshire Fire and Rescue have warned people to take extra precautions during the strike.
It has also emerged that bin collections in North Swindon could be affected, leading to the possibility of some properties going a month without a pick-up.
A council spokesman said all other council services are expected to be running but asked people to check before they leave home.
Some driving test examiners could be on strike, leading to the cancellation of tests, but students are advised to turn up so they are eligible for compensation.
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