Strikers rally in Bedford during day of action by public sector unions

GMB strike rally in Bedford, with MEP Richard Howitt, centre.
GMB strike rally in Bedford, with MEP Richard Howitt, centre.

Strikers rallied in Bedford this morning during the GMB and other public services unions day of action.

Following a march through town, a meeting was due to be addressed by MEP Richard Howitt.

Bedford Borough Council employees are among those out on strike today, Thursday, July 10.

The GMB along with other unions involved have chosen to withdraw their labour in response to dissatisfaction with pay.

A number of schools have closed during the day’s strike action.

GMB National Secretary, Brian Strutton, said: “Our members have spoken loud and clear and said they want to go on strike.

“We have tried sensible discussions, we’ve sought to negotiate reasonably, we’ve said we are willing to accept ACAS arbitration rather than go on strike - but to everything we’ve tried the employers have said “no”. So we have no choice.

GMB members serving school meals, cleaning streets, emptying bins, looking after the elderly, helping children in classrooms and in all the other vital roles serving our communities are fed up with being ignored and undervalued.

“Their pay has gone up only 1% since 2010 and in October even the national minimum wage will overtake local authority pay scales. Their case is reasonable. No wonder they have turned to strike action as the only way of making their voices heard. With other unions involved too, the 10 July looks like being the second biggest dispute ever with up to 2 million workers on strike.”

A borough council spokesman said: “Following the announcement of strike action by a number of public sector unions on July 10, contingency arrangements have been put in place and we do not envisage any disruption to front line services. Wherever possible we will make sure that residents are alerted in advance if it appears any council services may be disrupted.”

The ballot of members saw a 73% vote in favour of going on strike with a turnout of 23%. The strike is for 24 hours from July 10.