York strikes receive boost from Solidaritea volunteers


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The Independent Online

The smell of bacon was wafting deliciously into the street outside St Lawrence Church Hall, just outside the historic walls of York this morning.

Inside more than 30 volunteers had been hard at work since first light preparing to feed the city’s picketing workers.

Those taking part in the Solidaritea operation said they were trying to break down barriers which they claimed the Government was erecting between public and private sector workers.

“We are supporting the people on the picket line because there hasn’t been a strike of this size for so long and we want the public to know people support them,” said self-employed Sarah Hindle, 44, as she and fellow volunteers set about preparing another batch of butties this time for striking planning officers.

Poring over a “battle” map of the 25 pickets being fed and watered, Graham Martin, 27, a former charity administrator until he lost his job in a round of cutbacks, said there had been a good turn out.

Pickets were being staged at council and union offices, job centres, among police and military support workers as well as the city’s further education college and universities.

Only six of York’s 61 schools were fully open with 35 completely shut.

Jennifer Clayton, 30, who runs her own business, said the Government was ideologically driven in the way it was seeking to reduce the deficit.

“These cuts are politically motivated. They are not just about saving money they are about undoing the work that the unions have achieved over the past century. It is about rolling back the rights to pensions that employers should provide,” she said.

Electronics researcher Mark Bentley, 26, who was ferrying food and drink on his bicycle, said there were other ways the Chancellor could balance the books. “There is an estimated £120bn in avoided and illegally evaded tax. If the Government plugged these loopholes and hired people to track down tax evaders rather than sacking them, which is one of the first things they did, that would probably solve the deficit problem instead.”

A march was being held later in the day culminating in a rally outside York Minster.