STRIKES: Protesters march through King’s Lynn

Around 200 public sector workers marched through the heart of King's Lynn this lunchtime to protest against the Government's pension reform.

The protesters, representing 20 unions, began marching from the tax office in County Court Road at 12pm before making their way to Austin Street and past the nearby West Norfolk Council offices.

The march then snaked its way to the Tuesday Market Place with a light police presence before strikers mixed with Christmas shoppers as they headed down King Street and gathered outside Boots to listen to various speakers.

'Everyone deserves a good pension,' said Jo Rust, King's Lynn and District Trades Council secretary and UNISON member.

'Strike action is a last resort, but we have to take steps to retain rights that were promised to us when we took up employment in the public sector.

'We receive no bonuses, our pay has been frozen for over 2 years, our terms and conditions have worsened considerably, but we are still made out to be pampered, privileged and protected.

'This government is seeking to put the blame for a global economic crisis on too many public sector workers who are being paid too much but in matter of fact more than 60pc of those in the public sector are women workers who earn much less than men and earn on average less than �21,000 a year.

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'Women are more likely to spend their retirement in poverty and these pension changes will only make this situation worse.

'So, not only are women bearing the brunt of cuts to services in the public sector, like childcare, buses for those who can't drive and live in rural areas, and a continuing gender pay gap, but they are now expected to pay for greedy bankers who gambled the nation's money on risky ventures but are still receiving huge bonuses.

'This government claims that millions didn't vote for strike action but are being forced into taking strike action.

'Our unions work on a democratic principle, in the same way as our country does. Most trade unions had a ballot turn out of more than 50pc, with an overwhelming majority voting for strike action.

'Yet the government are only using the figure from those trade unions with a lower turn out. This manipulation of figures shows they are desperate to present an argument which is in their favour as opposed to telling the truth and letting the public choose who they believe.'

Ian Barton, a civil servant and PCS member, added: 'I provide a valuable service to the public, yet I am vilified and demonized in the national media.

'I pay my taxes and contribute towards society but that's not enough, they want me to pay more, work longer and get less.

!It's a race to the bottom and I don't think equality of misery is equality worth having. I'm prepared to stand by my colleagues in the private sector to improve their conditions because we all deserve a decent pension not one which will see us have to choose between eating or heating, that's what so many people will be faced with.'

Dave Dennis, who is retired, said: 'I'm supporting this action because I want my grandchildren to be able to access a decent pension scheme like I was able to.

'I worked for a long time in the public sector when it paid much lower than my friends who worked for private industry.

'I never got the same level of bonuses they did, but what kept me there was the knowledge that my pension would be able to provide for me when I retired.

'Why should my grandchildren and those of my friends not be able to have the same thing, but instead face worry when they retire because they know they're going to have to claim benefits to make ends meet.'

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