Workers threaten more strikes after mass walk-out

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MORE strikes are to come if the government keeps attacking public sector workers, union leaders have warned.

Unison branch chairman Jon Woods called for more industrial action to follow yesterday’s mass strikes of teachers, firefighters, council workers, binmen and others.

Public service workers from throughout the Portsmouth area take part in a nat ional one day strike which saw them march from Guildhall Square along  Commercial Road, returning to Guildhall Square. (left to right), teaching assistants Linda Matthews, Toni Lewis, and Julie  Renn.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (142003-2)

Public service workers from throughout the Portsmouth area take part in a nat ional one day strike which saw them march from Guildhall Square along Commercial Road, returning to Guildhall Square. (left to right), teaching assistants Linda Matthews, Toni Lewis, and Julie Renn.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (142003-2)

Addressing hundreds of workers assembled in Portsmouth’s Guildhall Square, Mr Woods called for six million public sector workers to strike together over issues including pay freezes, pension cuts and the introduction of performance-related pay for teachers.

Mr Woods said: ‘Our members are struggling to put food on the table, while the rich in this country have had tax handouts and keep their big, fat salaries and huge bonuses.

‘It’s simply not acceptable and we will carry on striking until we win a decent pay rise for all public sector workers.

‘We have one big advantage over the Tories, and that is that there are many more of us than them.

‘If we all spit together we will drown them. We will fight! We will win! Strike, strike, strike!’

Demonstrators who bore placards adorned with demands such as ‘stand up for education – our pay is pants’, ‘fail the bankers now’ and ‘revolution’ marched through the city centre at lunchtime.

They rang bells, sounded horns and chanted slogans, prompting a minor traffic jam as the procession made its way across the roundabout outside Portsmouth and Southsea Station.

One striking member of Unite, an elderly woman, had an epileptic seizure and collapsed in front of Cascades Shopping Centre, but recovered after she lay down for a few minutes.

National Union of Teachers Portsmouth secretary Amanda Martin said the outlook had never been so grim for teachers, and called on education secretary Michael Gove to stand down.

She said: ‘According to Michael Gove, teachers have never had it so good.

‘It’s so good I work 60 hours a week, pay has gone down, pensions have been cut and unqualified teachers are allowed to teach. Two in five teachers are leaving after their first five years.’

But not everyone was impressed.

Stubbington’s Chris Arnold, 35, was among the onlookers who objected to the strike.

He said: ‘It’s stupid. They get reasonable pay. A lot of other people get a lot less than them.

‘I think my carer gets minimum wage. This Michael Gove thing is just an excuse.’

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said: ‘We want to thank the vast majority of public servants who turned up for work as usual today.

‘As part of our long-term economic plan, this government has had to take tough decisions, including to restrain public sector pay.

‘The blame for today’s disruption rests with those union leaders who pushed for unnecessary strike action with weak mandates.’