AROUND 300 striking workers, many wearing Victorian fancy dress, staged a demonstration in Bournemouth calling for an end to “poverty wages”.
Local government workers and union officials marked a day of strike action by marching from Bournemouth Pier to the BIC, where the Local Government Association conference is being held.
They chanted “We didn’t cause the banking crisis” and “We want fair pay” and brandished a poster depicting Prime Minister David Cameron as a jester and saying that a one per cent proposed pay rise was a joke.
Bournemouth social worker Heather Cusack, who was there with her two-year-old daughter Robyn Payne, said: “Our pay has been cut and it’s getting harder and harder for us at home and in the workplace too.
“We’ve got to do more with less. One per cent is an insult.”
See how the strike unfolded in Dorset in our live coverage of the day's events
And another social worker, who gave her name as Dee, said: “We’re massively understaffed. I guess I’m on a higher pay rate than most of the workers, that’s what concerns me.
“People in admin and in unskilled jobs, what are they going to do with one per cent? It’s working poverty.”
Carol Freeman, who works in Ferndown library, said: “There are so many low paid women who work for the county council. People are struggling, people in work are going to foodbanks.”
And Chris Miles, who is a care assistant, said: “I reckon I get about 40 pence more per hour than if I worked on the checkout at Tesco.
“We’re expected to do a lot for that, we look after vulnerable people. A lot is expected of us and I would like to see people who do these jobs paid a decent wage.”
Bournemouth council leader John Beesley had criticised the unions for choosing to demonstrate outside the BIC, saying it would send out the “wrong message” for the town.
Many passing motorists tooted their horns in support but not everyone was so supportive, with one passer-by telling strikers: “You’re lucky to have a job.”