PEOPLE in Bridgwater angry about the Government’s ‘assault on public services’ took to the streets in protest on Thursday.
Bridgwater Trades Union Council members joined public sector workers taking part in the national day of industrial action, supported by more than a million people across the country.
Several schools in Somerset were closed, including Somerset Bridge Primary in Bridgwater and Wembdon St George’s Primary.
Bridgwater library was closed for the day, as were all Somerset’s day centres for people with learning disabilities.
Members of Unite, the National Union of Teachers, Public and Commercial Services Union, Unison and GMB gathered at the Cornhill to protest about issues including pay freezes and below inflation wage increases in the public sector.
NUT campaigners promoted the Stand Up For Education campaign which highlights the number of academy schools employing unqualified teachers.
Vicky Nash, the NUT’s divisional secretary for South and West Somerset, claimed measures were having a damaging effect on children’s education.
Bridgwater Labour councillor and Unite member Leigh Redman said: “There is deep anger at this Government’s assault on public services. This is not just about pay. It’s about the pressure of huge workloads, the targets culture and the stress of bullying managers.
“People have had enough. Across Britain spending cuts have decimated local services. By 2015/16 the Con/Dem government will have hacked £11.3 billion from local government funds in England alone.”
Cllr Mick Lerry, Labour leader on Sedgemoor District Council and Parliamentary candidate for Bridgwater and West Somerset, said: “The Government must realise that they have a responsibility to meet with the unions to discuss their grievances and to make sure that there are good employee relations, rather than complaining about the action unions take.”
Members of the Fire Brigades Union also joined Thursday’s industrial action and are holding a further series of strikes at various times during eight consecutive days that began yesterday (Monday).
Somerset County Council said 364 of its workers were absent due to the industrial action, which represents 7% of the overall workforce.