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Threat of more to come follows Great Yarmouth and Gorleston strikes

PUBLISHED: 14:35 02 December 2011

Great Yarmouth Borough Council workers on the picket line in front of the Town Hall.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council workers on the picket line in front of the Town Hall.

Archant

STRIKING public sector workers have warned that although the biggest walk out in 30 years is over, there could be further action if the government does not listen to them.

Staff picketed Great Yarmouth’s town hall, college and hospitals and many schools were shut for the day as thousands withdrew their labour on Wednesday.

The peaceful protest, which caused widespread disruption, was a call for a fairer deal on public sector pensions and a rally against government cuts.

Brian Lynch, regional organiser for Unison, said: “It was a fantastic display and my heart goes out to the members who volunteered for picket duty from 6.30am before doors even opened.

“We had almost universal support from the public and there was a real determination for us to work not just for November 30 but after that.

“If we can’t reach an agreement with government there could be further action.”

Police say all pickets took place peacefully in the borough, but the effects of the strike were seen by most.

Trevor Wright, of Unison’s mental health branch in Norfolk, was on the picket at Northgate Hospital.

He said members did not take the decision to cause widespread disruption lightly.

“A great deal of thought went into this, and I believe that the union was left with no option but to do this,” he said.

“It goes deeper than pensions - it’s about cutbacks and we needed to make a stand.

“I’m a father and a grandfather. Sometimes you have to make a small loss to gain and it is certainly not our intention to disrupt children’s education or people’s healthcare.”

Strike action saw 16 routine operations cancelled in advance at the James Paget Hospital. T

he Accident and Emergency department was fully staffed, and a spokesman for the trust said there was at least a bank holiday level of cover across all departments.

Great Yarmouth College was open as as usual and, although some staff were absent there were organised staff-led sessions for all students. A picket appeared outside the main gates at 8am.

Some of the learning sessions at the college were in the Community Learning Resources Centre, and the college had organised outside speakers to come in.

The college had also offered the opportunity for any staff member who had turned up for work but had school age children - aged over five - and who were off school, the chance to take them into college with them.

Alan Stewart, acting secretary of Great Yarmouth and District Trades Union Council said: “I was very pleased that the ordinary people of Great Yarmouth gave such a warm reception to the town’s public sector workers in the Market Place and on the picket lines.

“Most people we talked to understood perfectly well 
why workers in the public sector felt compelled to strike in defence of their pensions.”

“As this Tory/Liberal Democrat government continues to attack the living standards of ordinary working people it is more important than ever that local workers join the trade union relevant to their trade or industry, 
both for individual and collective protection against attempts to degrade their wages and working conditions.”


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