Over 1,000 public sector workers from Preston and the surrounding area today took part in the biggest national strike for 30 years.
Several council buildings and schools were shut for the day, and services like bin collections, leisure centres and certain clinics at Royal Preston Hospital were reduced as nurses, teachers, civil servants and police joined the walkout over government changes to public sector pensions.
Picket lines were formed around buildings on the UCLan campus, as well as NHS offices and government buildings in Fulwood. Public sector workers gathered in Avenham Park this morning and began a march to the Flag Market through the town centre.
Workers from Unison, Unite, PCS, NASUWT and other unions assembled on the Flag Market for chanting, music and talks from various unions.
Debbie Turner from Unison said: “I’m proud to be standing beside other public sector workers defending our pensions.
“Let’s get it straight, this isn’t about public sector workers wanting more, this isn’t about us thinking we’re special. This is about us standing together and telling this government that enough is enough.
“We won’t allow them to impose an additional tax on us and expect us to pay for the mistakes of the bankers.
“They (the government) say that our pensions are gold-plated, try telling that to the cleaner that I spoke to this week who retires on three thousand pounds a year.
“They tell us that they can’t afford the NHS pension scheme – when it receives more than it pays out, and has done for as long as I can remember.
“Currently it receives two billion pounds more than it pays out, and where do these extras go? Straight into the Treasury’s coffers. How can Cameron say we’re all in this together?”
Other speakers criticised union leaders for not leading today’s walkout and called for solidarity across unions and also from private sector workers.
The Department for Education today released figures saying that 58% of schools across England were shut. Chancellor George Osborne today told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that he believed the pensions deal was “a generous one”.
Full photos and video will be on the site later.