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Strikes and demonstrations in Norfolk over public sector pay, pensions and jobs

09:34 10 May 2012

Demonstrations are taking place across Norfolk.

Demonstrations are taking place across Norfolk.

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2010

Demonstrations and strikes are taking place in Norfolk today as workers protest over public sector pensions, pay and jobs.

Union leaders predict that nationally, up to 400,000 workers will be involved in a wave of demonstrations, fuelled by ministers making clear in yesterday’s Queen’s Speech that they are pressing ahead with their controversial reforms.

Civil servants, lecturers, health workers, Ministry of Defence staff, immigration officers, off-duty police officers and members of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary will be among those joining strikes and other forms of protest across the UK.

About 300 off-duty police officers from Norfolk have travelled to London for a protest march, while about 70 prison officers at Wayland Prison are picketing outside the jail.

Senior prison officer Matthew Atkins, Wayland Prison’s branch chairman of the Prison Officers’ Association said: “We did not want to take action but we have had to. We are being asked to work until we are 68, but we are saying that, with the type of prisoner we have to deal with, that’s not the age to be doing this job.” He said that, as a responsible union, despite the strike action, officers would still deal with emergency situations and serve meals.

Picketers were also outside the JobCentre Plus offices in Pottergate, Norwich, while campaign group the Norfolk Coalition Against the Cuts held a rally the Kings Centre in King Street, Norwich, at noon.

A spokeswoman for the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital said of its 6,000 staff, about a dozen were taking part in industrial action.

She added those staff were in non-nursing, support services roles and the hospital was running as normal.

Just three staff at the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston took part in industrial action.

Rail passengers have also faced disruption, with drivers working for East Midlands Trains carrying out their fourth of six planned one-day strikes.

Limited timetables are in place on the line which connects Norwich with Peterborough, Nottingham and Liverpool after drivers’ union Aslef took action over plans to reduce pension fund contributions.

With the strikes mainly involving civil servants, Norfolk County Council said it was not aware of any of its staff being on strike, with schools open as normal.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude described the strike as “futile” and insisted that talks over pensions will not be reopened.

The walkout follows last November’s huge stoppage by more than one-and-a-half million workers in protest at the changes to their pensions.

Most public sector unions remain opposed to the reforms, which they warned would leave millions of workers having to pay more into their pensions, retiring later and receiving less when they stop work.

Ministers insist the current level of public sector pensions is unsustainable and reforms are needed, saying workers will still receive decent payments on retirement.

26 comments

  • Can I play now Archant? Went past the jobcentre at 8.50 this morning and there was 2 people standing outside handing leaflets to the scores of people walking past them, not much of a picket line. Our PCS branch wont be joining them.

    Report this comment

    Piranha24

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

  • Gold Plated conditions B.G.I suggest you visit a school and see for yourself the difference in conditions between teachers and the cleaners and the kitchen staff.I would not say the street cleaners,dustbin men etc are treated with kid gloves.I would agree with you as far as teachers and head teachers go but they are not the only ones who make a school tick over.

    Report this comment

    john kendall

    Friday, May 11, 2012

  • I wonder how many private sector workers who are moaning about the public sector workers have made any provision at all for old age.When you talk about public sector workers you have to remember those that are just on minimum wage and are saving money that they can ill afford.They are not all white collar workers,doctors,policemen and teachers.Some work damn hard for their money.Why are they all tarred with the same brush?

    Report this comment

    john kendall

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

  • Of course there are millions of workers in other countries who will do the work cheaper They live 10 to a room, or in mud huts, work with a gun in their back, or are slaves and are paid peanuts. Pregnant or sick workers are discarded. Their children die young and those that survive grow up in ignorance in dwellings awash with sewage. Is this an economic model we should follow? I hope not! It's maybe what the private sector would like though when they moan that British workers are too expensive.

    Report this comment

    marty r

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

  • I have a family memeber who is a solicitor for local government, and another who is a GP. Both are horified that they will not now be able to retire on a full pension at age 55! I accept that certain 'promises' were made regarding public sector pensions but the simple facts are that currently 20% of the council tax we pay goes towards these pensions. As a nation we cannot afford to pay any more (well I know I cannot!) I have absolutely no problem at all with anyone in the private or public sector retireing whenever they want - but they need to fund that themselves. And surely in an age where no one should be discriminated against, everyone should get the same pension!

    Report this comment

    smithrob

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

  • the banks should have been allowed to fail, things would've been grim for a while, almost mad max proportions...an English spring is required on all fronts, or we can continue with the slow Fabian destruction into eternal oblivion ...viva the revolution!!!!!

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

  • For "Fat Cats" read hard working creators of wealth - people who's ingenuity and expertise provide well run profitable organisations that give real employment to the majority of U.K. workers.Without these people to fund it , there would be no public sector.

    Report this comment

    Tudor Bushe

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

  • would agree that private sector workers have a hard time however there are millions of workers in developing world that will do the work at lower rates, would also agree that the gap between rich and poor in this country is to wide but it widened significantly during the last labour goverenment and its not just big business that can be greedy but footballers, popstars and so called celebrities

    Report this comment

    blister

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

  • @ john kendall The problem nowadays is working out who is a public sector worker and who is a private sector worker contracted to the public sector to carry out a function previously done by a public sector worker. That is why many bin men etc are no longer public sector employees. By gold plated conditions I was referring to lengthy paid sick leave, paid compassionate leave etc etc which many private sectors don`t have access to.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Saturday, May 12, 2012

  • Welcome to the real world , people working outside the public sector have had to deal with all this some time ago.Do you really expect us to pay even more taxes so that you can enjoy a retirement denied to the rest of society?

    Report this comment

    Tudor Bushe

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

  • The model on which pensions for public sector workers is totally out of date. It is based on life expectation being less than a decade into retirement. The expectation now is that people will more than likely live as long in retirement as their length of service. You don`t need to be an Einstein to realise that past contributions are not going to come anywhere near paying individuals` inflation proofed pensions for 20 to 30 years. The music has stopped and the Coalition has found itself in the unenviable position in having to find a solution to this problem, which Labour hide away for years in the bottom of the too difficult tray. The only way forward is for public sector workers to have to contribute a bit more towards their pensions which when you look at the private sector pension industry seems only fair. It`s no good public sector workers saying this is what I signed when I joined so why should I accept the changes. They didn`t hesitate for one minute accepting changes of condition of employment when it was in their favour but on this one my advice to public sector workers would be you are getting a very good deal in difficult circumstances and accept that is how it is at the moment. Now is not the time to strike. You are only losing money.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

  • Isn't it funny that there's always talk of public sector pensions being unsustainable. But there's never any talk of fat cats million £ bonuses being unsustainable. Or fat cats tax avoidance being unsustainable...

    Report this comment

    marty r

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

  • @ john kendall - The issue with public sector workers seems not to be confined to pensions alone. Public sector workers have gold plated conditions of employment, which private sector workers can only dream of.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

  • having worked in private and public sector, I discovered that public sector workers enjoy better conditions and better pay and a very generous pension that is paid for by many low paid workers in the real world ie the private sector, the labour government sold most of our gold and spent most of our money we need cuts to pay for their disastrous policies

    Report this comment

    blister

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

  • from the 1960s through to the present there has been a cycle of labour governments overspending and getting the country bankrupt only for the tories to get power try and make savings aand cuts which are unpopular, they get voted out and labour gets in and throws money that we don't have at anyone that asks

    Report this comment

    blister

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

  • the labour party left office with public sector pensions in over 100 billion pounds worth of debt. The coalition are ignoring the debt problem and are still borrowing 400 million pounds a day to pay our debts. The three party system has failed the british people and has proved not one of the three main parties are up to the job of sorting out the massive debt left by the labour party

    Report this comment

    milecross

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

  • A demoralised civil service is a pre-condition of privatisation so that the Government can reward those it represents the bankers and their footsoldiers of ATOS,A4E and the like.FTSE 100 Company CEOs have seen an 11% pay rise this year.What else can you expect from a Government of millionaires for millionaires.Everyone can rest easy with "Jerry Can' Francis Maude pouring petrol on the flames as the Minister for Catastrophes in charge.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

  • BG.. I have worked in the Public Sector all my life... The British Army & now the Fire Service.. I currently pay 11%+ into my pension pot..We have had a freeze on payrises for 3yrs now another 2 to go. And most of the changes of conditions have been cuts over the years!! Infact if I am asked I would walk out the doors and strike. I have been prepared to put my life on the line in both these jobs which don't exactly pay a great deal.. So YES I am wanting what I signed up for.. by the way we also pay taxes etc.. You all expect a Police Officer. Paramedic or Fire Service when you dial 999.. We only expect OUR PENSIONS

    Report this comment

    marshall

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

  • blister wrote "having worked in private and public sector, I discovered that public sector workers enjoy better conditions and better pay and a very generous pension" Doesn't that tell you how much the private sector "values" it's employees - minimum wage and little or no pension? And the average CS pension is just 7000 pa. Hardly a kings ransom.

    Report this comment

    marty r

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

  • Without bankers there would be no paramedics you idiot.

    Report this comment

    Tudor Bushe

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

  • Bang on BG, the wicked witch who was sacked after the baby Peter case, was rewarded with bundles of cash and the gold plated pension pot...madness

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

  • Sack all the strikers. We wont notice the difference as a lot of them are time wasting jobsworths anyway.

    Report this comment

    "V"

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

  • @ smithrob - You make a very valid argument for a universal pension pot. Why should private sector workers, many of whom only receive statutory sick pay and do not have the gold plated conditions of employment that public work sector workers have, work their socks off paying taxes - a significant proportion of which funds public sector pensions. And yet find themselves in great difficulty finding enough cash, if they are lucky enough from their pay packets to fund a pension for themselves which comes no where near a public sector pension. The gene is out of the bottle at last and public opinion is not on the side of the public sector workers.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

  • As all three parties, and independent surveys, all agree that public sector pensions cost £16 billion annually to fund that part not paid for by contributions, here is a very fair suggestion. We take ALL low to middle paid employees in both public sector and private sector and we share this some amongst them all to give a good universal pension. If those in the public sector do not want this, why not? Seems like a very equitable and fair proposal

    Report this comment

    weaversway

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

  • I don't know the full extent of the changes, and I don't have a public sector pension, but it seems like a breach of contract to me. Surely everyone who took a job where a pension was part of the package saw that as an important factor in their eventual renumeration? Going back on an agreement where employer contributions were effectively part of the salary and employee contributions have been made for years has to be seen as unjust, no matter what you think about the final reward. I think if I had one of these pensions I would want to be reimbursed employer and employee contributions plus compound interest and make my own arrangements if the terms of the agreement were changed.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Saturday, May 12, 2012

  • Mr Turnip. Lets imagine you're doubled up in agony on the deck with heart trouble. Who's gonna be more use to you. A paramedic or a banker? Left to the wealth creators, our society would be a jungle where all would fight all for resources.

    Report this comment

    marty r

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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