PUBLIC services ground to a halt across Wearside yesterday as workers walked out in support of a massive national strike.
The TUC says teachers, firefighters, civil servants, NHS staff and council workers are more than £2,200 worse off on average since the Coalition came to power.
Pickets were in place outside Sunderland Civic Centre yesterday.
John Kelly, secretary of Unite’s Sunderland City Council Branch, said: “Unite is proud to be taking part in strike action alongside our fellow trade unions.
“This is a fight for better public services, and for fair pay for those who work hard to deliver those services.
“Council workers have been targeted to bear the brunt of the austerity measures that have been imposed by millionaire cabinet ministers since 2010. Unite fully understand that Labour-run councils like Sunderland City Council are the scapegoats when implementing this Coalition Government’s austerity measures.
“Local government workers and the communities they deliver services to believe that local government workers should have fair pay, not poverty pay.”
Unison’s Helen Metcalf said: “The message we want to get across is that we are fighting for a pay increase for everybody.
“Seventy pence from every pound paid will go into the local economy, so a pay rise for public sector workers will benefit others as well.”
General secretary of the TUC Frances O’Grady said: “The economy may be picking up, but having paid the price in pay freezes and below-inflation pay increases for several years there is to be no financial let-up for town hall employees and other public sector workers.
“For them there are no shares to be had in the UK’s economic recovery.
“Instead, several more years of penny-pinching and frugal living lie ahead.
“In local government – and right across the public sector – workers believe ministers neither care about nor understand the pressures on their already stretched household budgets.
“Meanwhile, the Government seems happy for the public purse to miss out on billions through income tax cuts for the wealthy and corporation tax reductions for big businesses, yet says there’s no money to give a decent pay rise to struggling care assistants, nursery workers, dinner ladies and other local authority employees.”