Up to 1.5 million public sector workers went on strike on Thursday 10 July (J10) against poverty pay and in defence of jobs and services. Nine different unions were out on strike – civil servants in PCS and Nipsa; teachers in the NUT; fire-fighters in the FBU; local government workers in Unison, Unite and GMB; and sections of London transport workers in RMT and TSSA.
Harrogate Socialists joined the picket of Unison members outside the council’s Crescent Garden offices, which were closed to the public due to strike action. Pickets were interviewed by the Harrogate Advertiser and highlighted the impact of continuing pay cuts. Dave Houlgate, Unison branch secretary, stated that “we are desperate now. We don’t forget it was the banking crisis that got us into this mess and they’re now receiving their big pay bonuses. They enjoy these bonuses while ordinary people still suffer austerity and, quite rightly, people are angry about this fact.”
The Revenues and Benefit offices were closed to the public and Harrogate Borough Council confirmed that every service area was affected by the strike. The town also saw well-supported action by teachers in the NUT and fire-fighters.
After visiting local picket lines in the morning, Harrogate Socialists travelled to Leeds to support the march and rally organised by Leeds Trades Council.
Over 2,500 public sector workers and their supporters marched through Leeds city centre. The rally included speakers from the FBU, NUT, Unison, Unite and PCS. Marion Lloyd (PCS National Executive Committee member) called for J10 to be the start of further co-ordinated action, that would also include workers in the private sector. Marion described privatisation as “organised crime” but stressed that Labour were no alternative and are also committed to austerity and cuts.
J10 has brought to the forefront the issue of working-class political representation. Which political party speaks for us? Which party opposes privatisation and the market? Which party defends public services and would scrap the anti-union laws? Supporters of the Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC) were present on the march and distributed hundreds of leaflets to union members calling for a new workers party that unequivocally defends our jobs and services.
For a Socialist analysis of the J10 strikes, see the following link: