Protesters in Hartlepool say they ‘simply want fair pay’

Firefighters on strike outside of Stranton Fire Station.
Firefighters on strike outside of Stranton Fire Station.

PROTESTERS in support of the public sector walk-out over pay say they “simply want fair pay and a fair deal”.

Pickets outside of the Civic Centre, Victoria Road

Pickets outside of the Civic Centre, Victoria Road

Picket lines could be seen around the town with the most prominent outside of the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road, Hartlepool.

Other’s took place outside Hartlepool Borough Council-run buildings in Church Street, and also in Wesley Square, outside the Jobcentre.

Ed Norton, who works in the museums department at Hartlepool Borough Council, was one of the protesters outside of the Civic Centre.

He said: “The one per cent rise of our £15,000 or £16,000 a year is a damn sight less than what MPs are getting.

“Austerity seems to be the excuse not to give somebody a pay rise and it’s not an excuse, not when the chief executive has had a good pay rise this year.

“We simply want fair pay and a fair deal.

“This is just the beginning of the fight, and these strikes are just a small part of it.”

Karen Pearson-Loughlin, a trade union activist, said: “Local government workers aren’t being given fair pay, and the knock-on effect is that services will continue to be cut so it is going to effect the general members of the public as well. It will effect everybody.”

Councillor Stephen Thomas, Labour representative for the De Bruce ward, was also on the picket line to offer his support.

Coun Thomas, who works for Health Watch Hartlepool but took the day off to take part in the action, said: “I’m here to basically show my support to the strikers because I think that the way the Government is treating government sector workers is absolutely appalling.

“The one per cent pay rise they’ve had in the last four years equates to a 14 per cent cut in real terms.”

He added: “Public services are essential to everyone in the community, but particularly to those that are most vulnerable.

“It’s about time the workers who provide these services were treated properly.”

The town’s local government workers and supporters joined thousands of others up and down the country in the day-long strike.

Teachers are also included in the strike with a number of Hartlepool schools closed for the day, forcing parents to either take the day off work or make emergency childcare plans.

The Fire Brigade Union (FBU) also joined forces in the strike action, with crews from Cleveland Fire Brigade’s Stranton Fire Station forming a protest.

Brian Gibson, the FBU chairman for Cleveland, said: “The action we took part in is particularly important because all the unions have got together to show our strength of feeling at getting one per cent pay rises.

“The FBU’s argument is also with the Government over pensions.”

He added: “We’ve had great public support, all we’ve had is support.

“We’re so pleased.”

Certain areas of the town were without green and brown bin collections as bin men took part.

There will be no catch-up collections, meaning residents will have to wait until their next normal collection, which is in two weeks, before their green bin and brown bin is emptied.

Recycling collections were not said to be affected, while the dog warden service, the Outdoor Market in the town centre, Throston Youth Project, Rossmere Youth Centre, Chatham Children’s Centre, Miers Children’s Centre, St Helen’s Children Centre and The Link in Lealholme Road will all be closed.

Hindpool Children’s Centre and Rift House Children’s Centre were not open for children’s centre 
services, although nurseries operating from inside the premises were open.