There was a feeling of solidarity among workers striking today.

Council workers joined teachers and firefighters taking industrial action over the Government’s 1% pay offer, all agreeing they can achieve more together.

Workers giving up a day’s pay spoke of the desperation many face as bills rise far faster than wages.

Initial estimates revealed there were 1,500 striking workers in St George’s Square, but with all but a handful of Kirklees Council’s schools and public buildings open, the 8,000-strong striking workforce brought services to a halt.

And politicians of all sides didn’t escape a bashing, with Nick Ruff, Unison branch chairman saying to cheers: “To Ed Miliband, you haven’t supported us today, if you want to get rid of the Con-Dems you have to support ordinary working class people.”

Public sector workers' 24 hour strike rally and march from St. George's Square, Huddersfield.
 

Sue Clifford, a cleaner, told how she was finding life tough and said: “I’m struggling to make ends meet.”

She told how sometimes she had just £10 left a week after household bills had been paid. She feels her children go without despite “scrimping and saving”.

During the march chants of “low pay, no way” rang out around the town centre.

I sought the views of the shoppers on New Street, one man, Martin Harper, said: “There’s no shortage of money in this country, it’s just not spent right and if we can’t look after the people who run public services, the carers, the street cleaners, the dinner ladies, the people we trust to look after our children and grandchildren, then we’re looking after the wrong people.”

It wasn’t without it’s challenges – as strikers shouted “scab” in the direction of Civic Centre 3 a passer-by challenged them: “What happened to freedom of choice? Respect them if they don’t want to strike.”

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One of the strikers entered into a heated debate before both men walked away, neither side persuading the other of their argument.

I approached the man and while he would not say if he was a council worker, he told me: “I support their right to strike in the same way I support a workers’ right not to. Those in there (Civic Centre 3) could have lost £90 today, that’s a lot of money and not everyone can afford to lose it.”

An anti-strike protester tried to disrupt Mr Ruff’s speech in St George’s Square but he was moved on by police officers who took no further action.

There were those who chose not to strike. A council worker told me: “I do support them but there are redundancies coming, that’s a fact, and absence is taken into account. I can manage in work, I cannot manage out of work.”

One firefighter told me they hope a compromise is found soon, but conceded they will ultimately be hit hard in the pocket.

It was clear by the shouts of support and beeps of a car horn and cheery waves from cars the strikers will have felt a wave of public support. And as firefighters prepare for further strike action, it’s clear the support means a lot to them.

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