Public sector protests in Brixton

Lambeth public sector workers joined the national strike today to protest against the government’s austerity cuts and pension changes.

Local strikers picketed outside the Brixton Job Centre, Lambeth College and Brixton Town Hall, before going on to join the national march in central London.

The strike was directed specifically against changes to pension rules and retirement ages, but many Lambeth strikers have also expressed their general anger at jobs cuts and austerity measures by the coalition government.

The unions participating included Unite, the Public & Commercial Services Union (PCS), and the University & College Union (UCU). Unison did not participate.

Prison officers at Brixton Prison also joined colleagues from 80% of UK jails in holding protest meetings against linking their normal pension age to the state pension age. Prison officers are banned from striking and have now been threatened with legal action for holding the day of protest.

Lambeth public sector strikers on today’s protests:

Sarah Murdock, member of the Lambeth & Southwark PCS

“We’re striking because the government have changed our pension conditions without consulting us. They’ve changed the way pensions are payed, upped our contributions and extended the time before we can retire. So we’re paying more, working longer, and getting less. The strike to me today is also more generally against government austerity. My members are really worried about how slashing in benefits will affect Lambeth. There are too many young people already unemployed in the area and we are worried about them too.

The strike has been really solidly supported today, with good picket lines. About 70% of people in jobs in Lambeth Job Centres are on strike.”

Roger Lewis, Lambeth UNISON and Disabled People Against Cuts

I have had to take annual leave to come out to the picket line today, because our leadership decided not to strike. The strike could have been very big if UNISON had been involved. The leadership don’t have the backbone – in this case they don’t represent the view of my members who I work with everyday and who feel anger at the privatisation of our services.  The Brixton Prison strike is totally unofficial, so it’s important. It shows a huge anger against the government. Every prison officer today could lose their jobs.”



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