Public sector strikes: East Lancashire workers on why they walked out

First published in Blackpool

WORKERS who went out on strike today explain why they did so.

Joss Guittard, 54, a hospital porter at the Royal Blackburn Hospital and GMB shop steward, said: “We’ve had a lot of support from members of the public, which is very heartening.

“The Government want to make you pay more, for longer, and get less in the end. They are trying to remove our rights.

“If they get away with this, what is next? Do they do away with the lump sums at retirement, do they expect us to keep working until we die?

“We need to make a stand now. We’ve had a good turn out of members, but there’s more who couldn’t be here because they must work to look after patients.

“Staffing levels are similar to bank holidays, so there is adequate cover and we dont’ want to put any patient at risk.”

He added: “One woman said that her daughter’s school was closing and she was losing one day of education because of the strikes.

"But I asked her to consider whether her daughter will have a pension in years to come if we don’t protest.”

Porter Kevin Aldred, 52, was also incensed about the government’s latest pay offer - pay rises capped at one per cent for two years, while benefits rise in line with inflation at five per cent.

He said: “It’s awful. Where is the incentive to work?”

Unison kitchen shop steward Jim Stanworth, 62, said: “We are not just doing this for us, but for our children and grandchildren, and for people who don’t even realise they will be affected.

“This is wide-reaching and the government plans need to be stopped before the gap between the rich and poor increases to Victorian levels.

“We have lads in the kitchens on apprenticeships earning £95 a week.

"What’s next? Are we going to start sending children up chimney’s again?”

He added:”The latest pay offer of capping our pay rise to one per cent for three years while raising benefits in line with inflation gives nobody any incentive to work, it’s wrong.

“There are so many people being laid off, where are they all going? There are no jobs in the private sector for them to pick up.”

At Nelson and Colne College, science lecturer Brenda Rowan, 50, said she was taking part in the action as the changes would have significant affect on her income.

She said: “Our contributions will go every 12 months for the next three years.

"That will mean around £70 a month less after tax in a time when prices are rising and there are pay freezes.

“It’s not like we are on big money: a lecturer here earns around £10,000 a year on average.

“What also angers us too is these decisions are being made by ministers who are millionaires in their own right.”

James Tattersall is a control room worker for Lancashire Police in Burnley.

He was joined at the picket line by his 12-year-old son, Jackson.

James said: “Jackson’s been up since 6am making banners and genuinely wanted to be here today to support us.

“Workers from all sections have joined in the action to show how much this means and how badly it will affect thousands of ordinary people.”

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