Picket of HMRC Valuation Office Agency Staff at Regent House (PCS)
UCU picket at Glyndwr University
PCS balloons: all that was left of the picket at the DWP
Anti-Trident banner, placard and leaflets
Rally in Queen's Square
Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) placards
Ian Farquharson (NUT)
Steve Ryan (PCS)
Peter Jones (UCU)
At Glyndwr University, there was a picket of about 10 UCU members outside the front gate on the main Wrexham to Mold Road, with a lot of cars beeping support as they passsed. Again, only two (but this out of over 170 members) were thought to have come to work today, with most apparently staying at home.
Back in town, the only evidence of an earlier PCU picket at the Department for Work and Pensions was a bunch of balloons and a lone sticker on the gate, the strikers having already headed off for the rally in Queen's Square.
People were starting to congregate as we arrived, jostling for space with the market traders. I put up our banner on Trident replacement: 'How would you spend £76,000,000?' with an explanatory placard and some leaflets alongside, then followed the crowd which had moved to an area in between the market stalls where there was a bench for the speakers to stand on to give them a better chance of being heard over the raw meat trader's patter and the burger van's radio, which was eventually turned down in return for the crowd making space for punters to get through. When the speeches started, there were 75-80 people. By the time they finished, the numbers had swelled to well over 100.
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) speaker announced that this was the first time in 127 years that the union had taken strike action and had been driven to this by government actions: 'Enough is enough' he said, although not apparently enough to want to overthrow the government, which he specifically ruled out, stating how moderate his union is.
Other speakers included NUT's Ian Farquharson, wearing a false beard which he took off to deliver a rabble-rousing speech: 'Osborne, Clegg and Cameron stole our pensions!', then some more speakers who I missed because I got distracted, followed by Steve Ryan of PCS. Steve said that any money saved by cutting PCS pensions would go to the Treasury, where it would just be used to fund bankers - the poor paying for the rich. He said 98% of Revenue and Customs PCS members had walked out today, but that he doubted whether even this level of support would shift the government; he spoke of the need to build the biggest mass movement since the poll tax protests.
Last up was Peter Jones of UCU Cymru, who continued the theme with a call-out for all the big unions to help build opposition to the government's cuts, especially those which were continuing to fund the Labour Party, even though Labour's leaders are also supporting public sector cuts. Peter called for everyone to take the strike away with them: "I urge you all to go back to your schools, universities, factories, communities and tell them what this is all about - This is an attack on the working classes. My grandfather was one of the first generation to get a pension; my father was the second; I might be the last. Did we really fight for a welfare state for it to last less than 100 years? No, we did not!" or words to that effect.
I spoke to a number of people including some teachers who said this was the first time they had ever taken strike action. Some schools were closed in Wrexham today, while others had lessons cancelled because of striking teachers. A number of people I spoke to were impressed with the numbers at the rally, others disappointed that more hadn't turned up from their workplaces.
As I left, the rally was dispersing and the market traders getting back to business. More photos to follow.