STRIKES UPDATE: High noon rally marches through Lowestoft town centre
RALLYING support for public sector workers, about 75 people took part in a public rally and march through Lowestoft town centre this afternoon (Wednesday).
Banners and placards were waved in a sign of 'solidarity' as Lowestoft Coalition against the Cuts joined forces with Waveney TUC and other union representatives to show support for public sector workers who are striking against the government attack on their pensions.
Union leaders and campaign organisers addressed those assembled outside the Britten Centre prior to a march through Lowestoft town centre for a meeting of strikers, local campaigners and supporters in the United Reformed church hall.
Richard Chilvers, secretary of Waveney TUC, referred to the events as being a 'great day' across the whole country and he urged those fighting against the cuts to 'channel and charge' their interests.
'The last time we had a rally and strike like this was when we organised a march of shame many years ago - back then we still had Richards Shipbuilding and Eastern Coachworks in Lowestoft.'
Echoing these sentiments, Stephen Mynott from LCAC - in speaking about the day of action and support for the workers - referred to prime minister David Cameron's Big Society pledge, saying: 'This is the Big Society here today - people who are prepared to make a sacrifice. We need to keep together and not let these people off the hook.'
Frank Joyce, secretary of Lowestoft Coalition against the Cuts, said: 'The attack on pensions is part of the wholesale attack on pay, on conditions and on public services. The rich do not need or use the services that people rely on.
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'They do not need or use the schools, the libraries, the youth clubs, the NHS, the care homes or the public transport that most of us do rely on. All of these public services are now to be cut, sold off or hived off, ripe for someone to make a fast and easy buck.
'A victory for these public sector workers will be a victory for all who value and need public services,' he added.
Tonight (Wednesday evening) local bands and performers will be putting on a 'Bands Against The Bankers' gig at Lowestoft Town Football Club in support of the strikers. The bill includes John Ward, Crumbs for Comfort, Coral Cross and Murphy's Lore. Entrance only �3 from the social club at Crown Meadow or �4 on the door.
With the pickets and protests taking centre stage at public buildings around north Suffolk today, as the one-day strike over pensions continued,the majority of Lowestoft area schools closed.
Just seven Lowestoft and Southwold area children's centres, three pupil referral units (PRU) in Lowestoft and two primary schools - at Pakefield Primary and Somerleyton Primary - were the only facilities to open today.
Three other primary schools - Poplars, Roman Hill and Woods Loke - were all 'partially open' today, with more details direct from the schools. The county council has a special website to keep parents up to date online via http://schoolclosures.suffolk.gov.uk
Earlier this week, Waveney District Council and its operational services partner, Waveney Norse, said they may be affected by the national day of industrial action called by some local government unions.
A council spokesman said that there was 'no known disruption to refuse collection services' although the council's Bungay and Halesworth local offices were closed today and staffing numbers were 'slightly down' in Waveney's telephone call centre, so customers were being warned they 'may experience slightly longer waiting times' for calls to be answered.