Public service workers across the UK gathered to protest against the state of local government pay and the disastrous impact of cuts to jobs and local services yesterday.
From Edinburgh to Brighton, Trowbridge to Redcar, the Vale of Glamorgan to Manchester; from youth services to care for the elderly, from teaching assistants to school support staff and street cleaners to refuse collectors, members took part in a variety of protests – some of them strikingly innovative.
In the East Midlands, for instance, Derbyshire branch used the day to highlight poverty in the main foyer of County Hall, and combined this by organising a drop-off point for food bank donations.
Maintaining the theme over at County Hall in Nottingham, Notts County branch organised a soup kitchen for council staff to highlight the real-terms decline in their wages since 2010.
In the Northern region, North Tyneside members were so sure of t inclement weather that they had ordered Worth It campaign brollies to make a colourful display outside the council’s headquarters.
Meanwhile, Northumberland County branch launched a ‘Wear it Red’ day to symbolise being left in the red financially by the real-time reductions in pay that local government workers have suffered.
In the North West, Sefton local government branch organised a ‘Take Your Break Day’, in which members were simply asked to work the hours for which they are paid, and take their break entitlements.
The aim was straightforward: to highlight just how much goodwill underpins service provision.
In Greater London, Southwark branch took Cinderella on to the streets to defeat the ugly sisters – David Cameron and George Osborne.
In the South East, members from Adur and Worthing councils held a lunchtime protest outside Worthing town hall, and in Portsmouth, UNISON members were joined by colleagues from UNITE in a ‘Step up for Pay’ event on the Guildhall steps at lunchtime.
In Belfast, UNISON and NIPSA colleagues marched together, while in Swansea, UNISON threw its weight behind a demonstration against council cuts.
And from across the UK the message to the Chancellor was a simple one – ‘Wake up, George! Decent pay is good for workers, our economy and the Treasury.’
Nor was the day of protest restricted to events on the streets, with #WakeUpGeorge acting as an online rallying point for campaigners and their supporters too.