“You know something is broken when you see emergency response workers on a picket line,” says the FBU rep.
In fact, this was a picket line like no other I’ve seen. Despite suffering both service funding cuts and pay degradation, despite being maligned by politicians from both the major political parties, Hastings’ emergency response crews managed to join the strike rally to support each other and all essential workers, whilst standing ready to respond to emergency calls.
We heard from four speakers, a GMB rep for the Hastings paramedics, who was there to assure us that all the services’ response teams remained on stand-by; Hastings FBU rep, Leo, who called on the bosses to show emergency workers some respect and recognition; Jenny, a TA at a local school and NEU member, who spoke about not just the appalling degradation of teachers’ and teaching assistants’ jobs and pay, but also about the terrifying increase in child poverty school staff see, whilst the government leeches more and more from our town, and we heard from Maya Evans, Hastings Borough Council Deputy Leader, who applauded the emergency services as heroes. Our councillors, she said, know as well as anyone how painful it is to try to keep essential services and facilities running, when the government is not even allocating enough resources for our councils to house our citizens when they need it.
There was a great turn-out both of emergency workers and of members of the public, and a constant background of drivers hooting in support.
In the hour or so that we were all there for the rally, there were three emergency ambulance call outs — which tells us just how sorely we would miss out NHS and other emergency services, if the government were to succeed in driving them away, to replace them with more profitable, business-based services.
Please support our essential workers in any way you can. It’s not just about pay. We have an unrepentant bunch of politicians who are making their work and their lives difficult in far more ways that most people realize.
Hastings — there will be another rally at the Bohemia Road ambulance station on the 28th December. If you couldn’t get along today, please come down on the 28th, to assure our essential workers that we know what they’re worth, that we aren’t fooled by the comfortable, well-paid politicians who slander them.
We know their game — they aren’t trying to resolve the problems our essential workers face. They think the strikes will turn us all against the workers, so that we won’t protest when close down our services. Don’t let them get away with it. Please turn out to support the strikes where you are, and let those workers know we won’t put up with this.
See you on the 28th, Hastings people!
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