Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Fantastic turnout at 30 November strike rally and march in Cornwall

Up and down the country schools, hospitals, council offices and other services have been affected today by the biggest wave of co-ordinated strike action for eighty-five years. The BBC estimate 80% of all schools were closed today. Between two and three million public sector workers, from more than thirty unions have gone on strike to defend their pensions from the outrageous attack the Tory-led governnment has launched. They want public sector workers to pay more into their pension schemes, work longer and receive less at the end. But public sector workers are not only striking for their pensions. They are also striking to defend their services from the vicious cuts agenda this government has unleashed.

There were marches and strike rallies in towns throughout the country. Many places have reported the biggest demonstrations in living memory. In Truro in Cornwall, a thousand people filled the Hall for Cornwall for a strike rally, leaving hundreds to wait outside. Speakers included a physiotherapist, a young woman teacher in the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the branch secretaries of the University and College Union (UCU) at Cornwall College and Cornwall University, Falmouth, a teacher in the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), Peter Cogbill from the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Stuart Roden, a full-time organiser for the Unison Union.

However, the speech of the day was given by Alana Bates, a care worker and representing Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance. Alana spoke about how today's action was part of a global movement against cuts and austerity throughout Europe and the world. She spoke about Occupy Oakland and the way it called a general strike which shut down the fifth largest port in the United States. As a private sector worker herself, she exploded the myth that private sector workers do not support public sector workers in their fight. She called on the government to provide decent pensions for everyone and told the packed hall, to huge cheers, that she brought solidarity from all those workers that are not on strike today.

After the rally there was a march through the city that ended at the cathedral. An endless procession of cars honked their horns in support and pedestrians waved, cheered and shouted their support. As the march entered the square in front of the Cathedral, the organisers announced that the police were estimating 3000 people on the march. The square was a sea of banners and flags from GMB, Unite, Unison, NUT, NASUWT, ATL, UCU, PCS as well as many individual placards and banners from Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance, Right to Work, the Labour Party and Socialist Worker.

After a few more speeches the day came to an end. As people dispersed, the mood was extremely upbeat. Everyone present knew that something incredible and historic had happened that day. Of course this cannot be the end. There must be further strikes if the government is going to be forced into a retreat. And if the workers are to win, the action must escalate. There must be further strikes in the new year, and they must be for 48 hours next time. We also need more unions, such as the Communication Workers Union (CWU), Rail and Maritime Workers Union (RMT) and the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) involved next time. Ultimately we need to move to a position were workers are going on indefinite general strike. Our slogan must be "all out, stay out".

5 comments:

  1. Great to know there are so many active activists in Cornwall! :) Oh to be younger and fitter!

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  2. Um - got a Twitter?! Mine is @oneoflokis! :)

    ReplyDelete