A rally in support of striking public sector workers in Londonderry on Thursday (July 10) heard how struggling employees are in cases ‘suicidal’ due to financial pressures and how for the first time in 150 years the rising generation can look forward to a poorer future than its forebear.
Dozens of trade unionists marched from Dale’s Corner to the rally in Guildhall Square as thousands of colleagues struck over a one per cent pay offer.
“Many, many thousands of public sector workers are now currently known as the working poor,” Liam Gallagher of Unite said.
“I’m sure colleagues, that you know friends in the workplace that are literally struggling to make ends meet at the end of the month. That is the reality for those who deliver the services that we in society need,” he added.
Anne Donnelly, of Unison, said: “I think we have to take a stand and say: ‘Enough is enough.’ Since the coalition Government went in we’ve had a 20 per cent pay cut.
“People are struggling, people are even suicidal, because of the way the wages won’t stretch to meet the bills.”
Alan Law, of NIPSA said: “The purpose of today’s strike is to send a message to the employers that a one per cent rise, which amounts for some of the lowest paid staff in Local Government and other parts of the public sector to 7P an hour...
“That is the pay rise that the employers believe you deserve. No-one in the public sector deserves the contempt that 7 pence an hour would send to them.
“We need to send this message to the employer that today is the start of our dispute and we will continue to fight until a reasonable and respectable pay offer is put on the table.”
Gareth Scott of Unite said: “This is a fight for better public services, for fair pay and for those who work hard to deliver our services.”
Eamonn McCann of Londonderry Trades Council said: “There is a crying need to spread the trade union movement into every nook and cranny of the economy of this city and of the north and across these islands.
“That’s particularly true in relation to the private sector, the private companies. This is a rally in support of public sector workers striking against effective wage cuts.”
Mr McCann said pay freezes and one per cent pay offers amounted to pay cuts with inflation at over two per cent.
“We now have, for the first time in 150 years, a situation where kids growing up, as things stand, can look forward to being less well off than their parents were.
“That’s a damnable disgrace in a society with the wealth creation potential that we have here.”
Further strike action is planned in October with workers employed in the education sector expected to also take part.