Union boss Mick Lynch has told striking workers “we are the working class, and we are back” in a rousing speech on a day of widespread industrial action in the UK.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union general secretary, speaking at rally for the National Education Union (NEU) in Westminster on Wednesday, insisted “every worker needs a square deal” as he hit out at the government for “trying to ban the working class”.
“Walkout Wednesday” was described as the country’s biggest day of strike action in a decade, with workers walking out in increasingly bitter disputes over pay, jobs and conditions.
It saw thousands of schools closed for the day because of action by the NEU and picket lines were mounted outside railway stations, schools, government departments and universities across the country.
Lynch addressed thousands of striking teachers gathered outside Downing Street.
“Welcome to Westminster, the house of fools and the house of the corrupt,” he said.
“Last year, Grant Shapps, remember him? He’s still around. Lurking around all of these buildings here, running the government, telling Rishi Sunak what to do, trying to ban the working class.
“He was telling the media that the railway workers have got no friends, that we would be back at work, and how dare we ask for a pay rise when teachers can’t afford to live, when nurses are more deserving cases, when public-sector workers can’t get a pay deal.
“Our message then, as it is today, is every worker needs a pay rise, every worker needs a square deal.
“And our message is sod this, we demand, and we are united. We will not be divided on the basis of who we work for. We will not be divided on the basis of our belief, or the colour of our skin, or the part of the country we are from.
“We are the working-class, and we are back. We are here, we are demanding change, we refuse to be bought, and we are going to win for our people on our terms.”
The NEU estimated that around 85% of schools across England and Wales would be affected by the walkouts, with potentially 300,000 union members joining the picket lines across the country.
Organisers believe 40,000 striking teachers and workers march through central London.
The TUC also held a series of protests against the government’s controversial plans for a new law on minimum levels of service during strikes.
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