Industrial Action in Durham
Observation of the Durham strikes.
Wednesday saw roads in County Durham become considerably less busy as public sector workers went on strike over the proposed pension cuts. Yet such is the well of support that the strikers had tapped into, that remaining motorists were seen to be beeping their horns at the PCS (Public and Commercial Services Union) pickets from the Land Registry along Southfield Way, who were camped out on the opposite side of the road from striking Unison colleagues from the University Hospital.
Protests had begun in the early morning when hardy picketers who had been up since 4am began a Union/GMB protest outside County Hall, continuing until their doors were shut at 9.30. This explains why students with classes at 9 or 10am might have seen a sign-wielding presence around Market Square. Most of the protestors later went on to join the regional TUC rally in Newcastle beginning in the early afternoon.
However, some students were not content with just observation, engaging in a more active role with the protests by picking up signs and protesting themselves. Leading a group of third-years on the picket-lines, student Jim Elliot said;
"We have come out here in solidarity with public sector workers, who we feel are being incredibly unfairly treated by the Tory/ Lib Dem Government.
"A lot of public sector workers came out in support of students when we were having problems with this Government and we feel it’s only fair we come out when they are having problems."
It is obvious that whilst students often see themselves apart from issues that befall residents of County Durham, an increasing number are taking action. Indeed, the theme of increased turnouts is very much apparent all over the country, including Durham, where protests have been the largest in a long time with record numbers coming out on strike, a sentiment echoed by PCS branch secretary Stuart Dunn;
‘There are 400 people work here (the Land Registry) and there are 350 on strike. It is a superb turnout.’
With the government taking a harsh line against recent strikes (PM David Cameron referring to them as ‘damp squib’), it is unknown whether these strikes shall be the first of many.
Are you an Arthur Scargill wannabe or a budding Thatcherite? Comment Below…