Public sector strikers in Barking and Dagenham speak out

Public sector workers picketing across Barking and Dagenham today have voiced their anger and frustrations over plans to change their pensions.

Strikers, who say government changes to pensions will see them pay more in to pensions pots, work longer and receive less during retirement, are picketing at a number of spots across the borough, including Barking and Dagenham College, in Dagenham Road, Rush Green and Dagenham Civic Centre in Rainham Road.

Speaking outside the college, administration worker and Unison member, Linda Willard, said: “I’ve worked at the college for 23 years and had been looking forward to a pension that I had been promised. Now the government is going back on that promise and I will receive less.”

She continued: “I think a lot of people believe all public sector workers get these massive pensions but that’s not true, most public sector pensions are relatively small.”

Her words were echoed by University College Union branch secretary Dave Taylor, who also works at the college. “A lecturer for example would receive an average pension of �9,000 per year,” he said, while an MP who has contributed towards their pension for half the time would get around �26,000. So the idea that most of us get gold plated pensions is rubbish.”

Barking Abbey School teacher and NUT member Anna Wolnuth said she joined the action to protest over the pension changes, as well the rise in tuition fees and the EMA cuts: “The bankers caused the financial crisis but the government are making students and middle and lower income earners pay. It’s completely wrong,” she said.

The 26-year-old said students and passers-by had shown their support.

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Outside Fritzlands Lane Recyclng centre in Dagenham, Gary Cassidy, a caretaker at St Vincents School in Dagenham, said there must be more consultations between public sector workers and the government and added:

“The show of strength today though out the country is the biggest since 1926. That must mean something.”

Jill Clarke, of Philip Avenue, Rush Green, said she supported the strike despite her grandchildren having to stay home from school: “We’re taking the kids to Winter Wonderland for the day, which is going to cost us more money, but we’re all behind the strikers. They have a right to strike and we understand why they’re angry about the changes to their pensions.”