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VIDEO: Hundreds strike in Sheffield today

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  • by Ellen Beardmore
 

This was the scene of a packed Sheffield square today as hundreds of workers staged a joint strike as part of national action.

Barkers Pool was filled with members of several unions - including school staff, council workers and firefighters.

They came together as part of a national outcry over public sector pay following years of pay freezes and then an offered rise of one per cent.

But other issues, including workloads, job losses and pension changes, were also on the table.

Across Sheffield many schools were closed , including Ecclesfield and Birley high schools - while others were only partially open, like High Storrs and Meadowhead.

Chapeltown and Crystal Peaks libaries closed but the city council did not release details of which services were affected, saying only that it ‘hoped’ to deliver as many as possible.

A panel was due to examine business plans submitted by community groups to run the libraries yesterday but had to be put on hold because of the industrial action.

Martin Wragg, a GMB branch official representing council staff, said the parks, housing, adult social care and planning departments would all have been ‘majorly disrupted.

He added: “Morale is at rock bottom as people have been facing for years now cuts and cuts to all the services.”

“If we need to strike again we will.”

Crowds of workers marched from Devonshire Green, through the city centre to Barkers Pool, stopping traffic on the way.

Speeches there hailed the work of the South Yorkshire freedom riders as an example to follow.

Some speakers called for a general strike and the loudest cheers greeted phrases such as ‘solidarity’ and ‘united we stand’.

Tim Roache, regional secretary for GMB, also told the crowds that public sector workers had been treated ‘deplorably’ for years.

He added: “The people who clean our schools, who feed our kids, will have their wages overtaken by the national minimum wage in October, That is a scandal and it cannot continue.”

See tomorrow’s Star for more on this story.

 

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