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November 30, Public Sector March and Rally

Rakhi Sinha and Emma Nuttall listens to opinions from the protesters - What do you think?

Published on December 1st 2011.


November 30, Public Sector March and Rally

PUBLIC sector strikers lined Oxford Road near the Manchester Royal Infirmary on Wednesday 30 November as they waited for fellow marchers to join them for a rally and speeches in Whitworth Park.

“Pensions are long term investments. If contributions go up so much, people won’t join and if they opt out, our pensions will collapse.

12.45pm had been organised as the time for speeches to begin, but no-one had anticipated the number of strikers to be so many. Estimates had been 5,000 across Greater Manchester, but it was closer to 30,000 according to union leaders.

And due to the large numbers of people marching in the city centre, they were nearly an hour late for trade union bosses, who spoke out against the government’s planned pension reforms.

That didn’t stop strikers near the MRI shouting their gripes whilst they were waiting: "You say cutbacks, we say fight back", they shouted as they waved their flags which read: ‘Everyone deserves a decent pension,’ and ‘Once again the worker is crucified.’

They received plenty of support from passers-by. One woman shook a striker’s hand and told her that she was proud that people were standing up against the government. Others rang their bike bells or honked their horns.

It was clear that it was a day for solidarity and strength in numbers.

When the march became visible in the distance, behind a wall of police officers, the shouts and whistles of surrounding strikers reached fever pitch. As it came even closer, it swallowed up those on the sidelines and numbers swelled as they streamed towards the stage in Whitworth Park.

Paul Foley, Unison Lead Organiser, lead the speeches: “Let’s show off this crowd we have here today. Manchester, you’re magnificent. Let’s hear it for the trade union movement. Let’s hear it for public sector workers.”

“I was in a meeting with the ambulance, fire and police chiefs and we anticipated that there would be about 5,000 people marching today across Greater Manchester, but we have about 30,000."

Mary Bousted, General Secretary of ATL (Association of Teachers and Lecturers), re-iterated the crowd’s sentiments, in a clearly political way:  “Friends, it’s bad now and it’s only going to get worse, George Osborne told us that yesterday, and there are already thousands of public sector workers out of work. They say that by striking we are backward looking but what’s backward looking is this shower who are meant to be governing us. Let’s remind ourselves who’s responsible for this mess - we shouldn’t have to pay for the sins of capitalism.

“It’s taken the government eleven months to put an offer on the table but it’s not good enough, we will not be dictated to. I’m proud of all the unions here today and you should be proud of yourselves.

“Pensions are long term investments. If contributions go up so much, people won’t join and if they opt out, our pensions will collapse.

Aleanne[1]

Teachers, doctors, nurses, council members and social workers were amongst those who took part in the strikes.

Jordan Gregory who works at Manchester County Court, had been discouraging colleagues from crossing their picket line earlier in the morning:

“I think what they’re doing now with pensions is terrible and making people work in demanding, stressful jobs until they’re nearly 70 is ridiculous. I don’t think it’s fair at all and more people need to join their union and come together to highlight this.”

Layla Ward, from Manchester City Council, thought that the day had been fantastic: “I was on the picket line at eight this morning and we had a few people saying that they didn’t agree with us, but the majority of people have been incredibly supportive.

“I hope that today will make a difference, it’s a strike but it’s also a protest against cuts and pension changes.”

Most people did seem supportive of strikers, but a few people voiced their disapproval: “This isn’t going to change the world,” one young man shouted at the crowd.

In the city centre the procession had made its way through the streets with lots of horn honking and the waving of union banners, while escorted by the extra police that had been drafted in for the day.

Peter, 45 from East Cheshire Trust explained he was there to: “March against the planned government reforms that were being made without negotiation. This needs to be fair and equitable for everyone”

Alistair, 48 from Manchester City Council joined him saying: “I want to make sure I’m secure in the future so it doesn’t affect the next generation. I don’t want to be dependent on my daughter”

Demonstrators protested with their children too.

Mandy, 37, a Lecturer from Manchester Metropolitan University brought along her two daughters, Ruby, seven, and Hope, nine, who were enjoying the enthusiastic and friendly atmosphere.

“It’s so big,” said Ruby. “It’s crazy here and we wanted to be with mum,” said Hope.

Did readers agree with the strikers aims and believe the government is being mis-guided and draconian or do they think the strikers were misguided and the protest was an insult to private sector workers who don’t have the security of public sector pension schemes?

 

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9 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Jeremy SmithDecember 1st 2011.

Poor misguided fools expecting to be cocooned in a 'safe' civil service job for life , try living in the real world where there are 20% pay cuts, mass redundancy and vast amounts being wiped off personal pensions. As for whoever dragged their two kids along and gave them placards, does that not count as exploitation

Charlie BDecember 1st 2011.

Listen as a private sector worker I think the strikers were right to do what they did. Good on them.

AnonymousDecember 1st 2011.

They delayed my tram for 30 minutes! lazy no good bums

it's the city, duffusDecember 1st 2011.

How does it feel to be one step away from Greece?

StrangeDecember 1st 2011.

Duffus, we're nowhere near Greece geograhically or economically

1 Response: Reply To This...
it's the city, duffusDecember 1st 2011.

Hahahaha! Business degree from Scunthorpe?

the Whalley RangerDecember 1st 2011.

Nowhere near Greece socio-culturally, surely?

Picture this: both governments introduce effectively a 15% deduction to pensions. How do either societies respond?

In Greece, the working/ middle classes are on the streets whilst a 'feral underclass' is nowhere to be seen.

In Britain, the 'feral underclass' is looting at will, whilst the working/ middle class shuts up and carries on.

Cheap telli and beer appears to do the trick here...

AnonymousDecember 1st 2011.

All these people wanting a pension so they dont have to burden their children. It clearly hasnt crossed their minds that their children are tomorrows tax-payers and as such it is their children who will be underwriting these pensions they want to keep enjoying.

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GrumpusDecember 5th 2011.

I've been made redundant 3 times in the last two years - keeping body and soul together at the moment by doing occasional agency work. The value of my pension has gone down by about 20% in the last 10 years and will probably drop a lot more before I can draw it. If (and it is a damn big if) I can get some real work before I retire, I will be highly delighted to pay increased taxes so that these public sector workers won't have to live in the kind of poverty they are happy to see me in. Oh, not to forget that I am still paying the taxes to support them even in my present impoverished state - via council tax and VAT. Tell you what - how's about I just tell you where I live - leave the door unlocked - you can just come round and take the lot, just to show how much you "care" about the rest of us!

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