Success signals second round of strikes

Wednesday’s strike action, which saw hundreds of local public sector workers take to Kingston’s streets, could be intensified in January.

Organisers estimate the march, which began outside Kingston University, Penrhyn Road, and the subsequent rally in Eden Street, attracted up to 600 people. They are hopeful that yesterday’s action paved the way for a larger day of action in January.

Matthew Smith, of Kingston GMB, said: “The Kingston area isn’t traditionally known for its cross-union work but today people from all across Surrey came together with a voice of frustration.

“We now hope to carry out a more sustained campaign with another one day, or maybe a two day strike, in January. The government are not going to back down over one day.”

One speaker also noted the change in attitude of traditionally conservative Surrey residents as they addressed issues of funding during austerity.

Standing on a make-shift podium, the Unison member said: “They call this sleepy Surrey, but we’re not sleeping today, are we?”

Strikers were unhappy that under new government plans, public sector workers will have to work for longer and pay more into their pensions. Many were also angry about the effect that cuts to public funding are already having on Kingston services.

A retired teacher attended as part of the Kingston Anti-Cuts Group, an organisation campaigning against government cuts and the affect they have had on the local area.

She said: “My pension is okay at the moment, but I am one of the lucky ones. I’m here to represent the young teachers, nurses and all the other public sector workers who are losing out.”

Her husband, also a retired public sector worker, said: “We are here to show solidarity with everyone else.”

Both agreed that “ongoing” pressure is what is needed if their point is to get across to the country’s decision makers.

Kingston GMB hopes to join forces with other trades unions, such as the RMT, for another set of coordinated country-wide strikes in January.