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Hundreds turn out for rallies as public sector workers walk out in row over funding and pay

Around 100 banner-waving strike supporters representing schools, emergency and transport services took to the streets to demonstrate for better funding and pay.

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NEU strikes march from railway station to Queen Square for a big rally in Wolverhampton

Hundreds gathered at a series of rallies including in Wolverhampton, Walsall and Stourbridge on Wednesday as representatives of bodies including the Trades Union Council, National Education Union (NEU), train drivers union ASLEF, Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association(TSSA), the Fire Brigades Union and Unison joined forces.

In Wolverhampton around 100 marchers took part in a noisy demonstration as part of so-called 'Walkout Wednesday', starting at the city's railway station following a route from Railway Drive via Lichfield Street, Princess Square and Wulfruna Street to Queen's Square.

They were treated to addresses by several regional representatives and Mish Rahman, of the Labour Party's National executive committee.

Mark Watters, of the Public and Commercial Services Union(PCS) told the marchers: "PCS has members protecting our borders, manning our prisons, our courts and our job centres among many many other departments. And 40,000 of us have had to use food banks.

"By standing together today with our colleagues at the NEU, the RMT and UCU and everyone else currently taking action, we can get what we deserve and tell this government we're not having it. We have tried writing to our MPs and we have tried negotiating, we don't want to be on strike, we don't want to lose money. We want to be in our offices helping the public like we did during Covid, like we do every day, but this Tory government is forcing our hands, whilst they plot and scheme in Westminster to remove the right to strike and further erode workers' rights."

People representing schools, emergency and transport services took to the streets

A train driver and and a member of ASLEF, who did not want to be named, said: "We've not had a pay rise in four years.We have to spend more on heating and we've got children to feed. We work unsociable hours.

"The company makes big profits. We're not seeing any of it."

Melissa Heywood, of Halesowen, who is a Midlands committee member for the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) said: "I'm here to support ASLEF and I think over 500,000 people are on strike today for fairer pay in line with the cost of living, safety for railway workers and staff retention.

"They want to get rid of station staff. Safety is an issue so that people like my mom who has mobility issues can get help to get on and off rail services."

Hundreds gathered at a series of rallies including in Wolverhampton, Walsall and Stourbridge

In Walsall where the NEU branch has almost 1,600 members pickets were held outside schools ahead of a rally in Gallery Square.

NEU Walsall Branch and District general secretary Sharon Guy said: “The rally was very well attended with great speakers and lots of noise, banners and great placards. Lots of people were stopping to listen to what we were saying, which is excellent.

“It’s not just about getting the message across, this is empowering the members to actually make a stand on their strike day rather than just take the day off. People spoke about solidarity. The fact cost of living is going up but our wages aren’t.."

The joint day of action culminated in a huge regional rally at Birmingham Conference and Events Centre on Wednesday night.