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VIDEO: Wirral public sector workers fight for fair pay
A MASS demonstration took place outside Wallasey town hall today, Thursday, as teachers and public sector workers staged a one-day strike in a row over pay and working conditions.
Strikes were held at a number of locations across Wirral, including Europa Pool in Birkenhead, the Land Registry Office, West Kirby and the transport depot on Cleveland Street.
Workers handed out leaflets to passers-by outlining their reasons for industrial action, which include not receiving a pay rise in four years and an increase in workloads.
Pickets from across the borough converged at Wallasey town hall at noon on in a mass campaign for fair pay.
Workers from social services, lifeguards, cleaners, fitness instructors and park rangers all took part in the demonstration.
Alan Small, from Unite, told the Globe: “We have been offered a 1% pay rise nationally. Our union Unite have put in for a £1 an hour pay rise which still doesn’t scratch the surface.
“We have had a pay freeze for three years and offered 1% last year and 1% this year which isn’t enough.
“The cost of living is going up and our wage isn’t so there’s a massive gap.
“People can’t afford to work and there are people on benefits. It’s got to stop and we have to make a stand somewhere.”
Alan thanked members of the public for their support, telling members of both Unite and Unison that they need to “stick together” through any future industrial action if they are to succeed.
He added: “The public have been brilliant, as you can hear the beeps as the cars go passed. The workforce have turned out all over Wirral in different locations and there’s great support here again at Wallasey town hall.”
Mike Thorning, who spent the morning on the Europa Pool picket line before joining colleagues at the town hall, said: “Nothing has changed for us, it is just getting worse for us all and workloads are increasing.
“We have all taken a pay cut and have four days of compulsory unpaid leave each year and now we’re facing 500 more council redundancies by December.”
Claire Brimble, James Robinson and Rob Phythiam on the picket line outside Wallasey town hall.
A substantial number of schools across the borough were closed on Thursday, as were libraries, leisure centres, tourist information centres, children and day centres.
Wirral Council had said the action would have a “significant impact” on the delivery of its services including funerals, which did not operate at Landican Cemetery at all on Thursday.
Courts cancelled a number of cases while job centres and tax offices also remained closed.
Williamson Art Gallery and Museum closed as did Birkenhead Priory and visitor centres at Wirral Country Park and Birkenhead Park.
Eighteen-week-old Bertie took part in his first demonstration and proudly wore the Unite colours.
The industrial action – triggered by growing union anger over Government austerity measures involved members of Unison, Unite the Union, the National Union of Teachers, GMB, PCS and the Fire Brigades Union.
Around 95% of Merseyside's 760 firefighters put down their tools between 10am and 7pm.
Mark Rowe, brigade secretary for Merseyside, said: "The dispute is about the Government trying to impose a pension scheme on us which will see firefighters working up until their 60th birthday which is totally unworkable.
Members of Unite and Unison pulled together for today's action.
"The Government's own report that they commissioned to look into whether or not fire fighters could work to 60 said nearly 70% of firefighters wouldn't meet the fitness standards set.
"If that's not bad enough, the real threat to us is that if we reach the age of 55 or younger without being able to maintain our fitness - we all age at different rates and pick up knocks and it's a very demanding job - but if we don't maintain our fitness we will be dismissed under capability.
"We won't have a job and we won't have a pension. That's something that we will not stand for.”
There could be further disruption next week as Unite announced a possible bin strike could be targeted towards the Open.
WATCH: Alan Small from Unite outlines what the industrial action is about.