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Public sectors strike in Herefordshire over 'unfair' pay
A NUMBER of public sector workers demonstrated today to highlight an ongoing pay dispute.
UNISON held a rally at Hereford Shirehall, while picketing also took place at other places across the city.
Workers have been offered a 1% pay rise, but they believe that still amounts to a cut due to escalating living costs.
"We have had three years of pay freezes," said librarian Jan Nesaratnam.
"Last year, we were offered a 1% pay rise, but two unpaid leaves, so really we have had four year's pay freeze.
"That is at a time when when we have had huge cutbacks.
"My colleagues are doing more and more to keep services going.
"We work for the local government because we care about people."
Fellow librarian Helen Astley said that she demonstrated because she has 'had enough'.
"We have had a 20% pay cut in real terms," she said.
"Services are still being cut and I've had enough.
"Most people in Hereford have been really supportive of us, especially when we explained why we were doing it."
Teachers, court staff and firefighters also staged stikes to highlight their issues.
Some schools had to close as a result of the strike, while partial closures were in force at other establishments.
Steve Akers, regional organiser for UNISON, said he was overwhelmed by the support the strike received.
"I have never experienced such a strong public support and sympathy before," said Mr Akers.
"It really was very inspiring.
"We have got a lot of young women who have stepped up to the plate and become representatives and they have never done anything like this before,
"It is therefore great to have that public backing.
"Our members have delivered a firm message to the employers in local government and local government ministers to get back to the negotiating table."
Mr Akers added that all UNISON branches will meet on Tuesday to analyse the reaction and plan the next course of action.