Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Let's picket

A striker gives his personal views on his first picket. 

7.45am - Arrived at Halifax Connexions office and joined colleagues Judy and Mick. After 34 years as a public services worker this was my first experience of picket duty. We were all apprehensive as we knew that all other Connexions offices were closed in Calderdale and Kirklees. We had also been told that workers who wanted to work were being directed to Halifax so that this office could stay open. 

By 9.00am we were wishing that we had brought a brazier as the temperature wasn't much above freezing. However, our cause was warmed by shoppers and people on their way to work who stopped to offer support:-

Fiona - explained that her husband is a refuse collector and there had been problems with their strike ballot and the fact that the refuse collection service has been privatised further complicated things. She felt that her 18 year old unemployed son was suffering as there were very few prospects at present. She said they were struggling with finances and that she hoped the government would take notice of the strikers.

Tammy and Jess - fellow strikers and administration workers from Northgate House offered to get us hot drinks if we needed them. They said around 30 workers had crossed the picket line where they were.

Stan - a former rent collector for Halifax MBC said he was pleased to see us demonstrating. He felt that someone needed to stand up for the futures of his children and grand children. He said that all people should have decent pensions.

Catherine - a teacher from the King Cross area of Halifax said she was behind our cause and hoped  that we didn't get too cold. 

At 9.30am the first worker turned up who wanted to cross the picket line. He wasn't in the union and didn't contribute to the pension scheme. Fifteen minutes later another 2 workers and a manager appeared. Thankfully only 3 workers were willing to cross the line and the centre stayed closed. At 10.20am we left for the demonstration in Huddersfield. 

After over 2 hours on the picket line I had received no abuse and had met over a dozen supportive members of the public. I have been heartened by the experience and will be willing to do the same again if necessary.

See link below for photos from Halifax and Huddersfield.

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