STRIKES: public sector workers run pickets across Great Yarmouth

Striking public sector workers are picketing Great Yarmouth's town hall, college and hospitals and have demonstrated in the market place.

Dozens of council workers assembled outside the borough council's headquarters this morning, and trades union bosses say there is much public sympathy for the strikes.

Police say all pickets have been peaceful so far.

Brian Lynch, regional organiser for Unison, said: 'There was very solid support at Great Yarmouth Borough Council where our pickets saw very few people go to work.

'There's a lot of support from the public and we give our thanks and appreciation to them.

'We had one woman say 'I went to work today and it's a shame on you', but it's expected and we need to educate people out there.'

The strikes, which are the largest that this generation has seen on a national scale, are a protest calling for a fairer pensions deal and a rally against government cuts.

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And lobbyists say the action is needed to make ministers take heed.

'I just want ministers to be honest with the public,' said Mr Lynch. 'They say there's a fair offer but that's an abuse of the Queen's English.

'We will be knocking on ministers' doors - there are 29 unions with six million workers and they have picked a fight they cannot win.'

Trevor Wright, of Unison's mental health branch in Norfolk, was on the picket at Northgate Hospital.

He said members did not take the decision to cause widespread disruption lightly.

'A great deal of thought went into this, and I believe that the union was left with no option but to do this,' he said. 'George Osbourne has mis-sold the pension package completely. People would be receiving 40 to 50pc less in their pension and working longer.

'It took a lot of heart searching for us to withdraw our labour but we were left no choice.

'It goes deeper than pensions - it's about cutbacks and we needed to make a stand.

'I'm a father and a grandfather. Sometimes you have to make a small loss to gain and it's certainly not our intention to disrupt children's education or people's healthcare.'

Strike action saw 16 routine operations cancelled in advance at the James Paget Hospital.

The Accident and Emergency department was fully staffed, and a spokesman for the trust said: 'We hoped to offer at least a bank holiday level of service, and it has been much better than that in most departments.'

Great Yarmouth College is open as as usual and running organised staff-led sessions for all students.

But a picket appeared outside the main gates at 8am.

Some of the learning sessions at the college were in the Community Learning Resources Centre, and the college had organised outside speakers to come in.

The college also offered the opportunity for any staff member who is at work but has school age children - aged over five - off school the chance to bring them into college.