Strike action is about fighting for ‘what sort of society we want to be’ says union boss

Crowds gathered for a rally outside Sheffield City Hall on Thursday as part of national strikes demanding better pay and working conditions. 

The demonstration in Barkers Pool was organised by the TUC.

Martin Mayer, Secretary of the Sheffield TUC said: “This is much more than just about pay, it is about the future. 

“It’s about what sort of society we want to be.”

Several speakers took to the steps of Sheffield City Hall throughout the afternoon.

Karen, a supply teacher and member of the NEU commented generally on the actions by the government.

She said: “They are resorting to racism; they’re trying to whip up anti refugee feelings.

“Gary Lineker was absolutely right when he wanted to talk about the language that this government is using.

“It’s not just scapegoating of refugees that this government is doing. 

“They are also trying to attack our democracy.” 

This demonstration comes at a crucial time for trade unions with the introduction of the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill which passed through the commons earlier this year.  

The bill means employees will lose legal protection against dismissals if they fail to comply with a work notice, and trade unions could pay damages up to £1 million.  

It is currently being debated in the Lords and has been labelled “incompatible with human rights laws” by the joint committee on human rights.  

Similar governmental opinions circulated throughout the afternoon. 

Gaz Jackson, RMT Regional Organiser for Yorkshire & Lincolnshire spoke on the strike action and pay conditions affecting rail workers.

He said: “We kept the key workers going around the country, getting into hospitals, making sure people were able to travel that needed to be able to travel. Well I’m afraid as we all know claps don’t pay bills.”

In his speech Mr Jackson urged the crowd to “keep these Tories out”.

RMT members have since voted to accept a new offer from Network Rail, with 76% in favour. 

Mick Lynch, RMT general secretary, said: “If the government now allows the train companies to make the right offer, we can then put that to our members but until then the strike action scheduled for March 30 and April 1 will take place. 

“The ball is in the government’s court”.

Written by Emily Shenton

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