Lindsay Martin 16 July 2014

Diary of a strike

Diary of a strike image

Thursday 26th June 2014

Attended a UNISON branch meeting to organise for the 10th July strike. I am 28 and will be striking for the first time. I work as a library assistant, but my UNISON branch covers around six hundred workplaces throughout Gloucestershire.

Wednesday 2nd Juyl

Spend afternoon ringing around union members to offer them assistance. It is a difficult decision for people; everyone is worried about the future of the library service. We know that the Local Government Employers have billions of pounds sitting in reserves, increasing the pay of people who earn very little will take away their need to rely on tax credits and in-work benefits.

Receive an email from my UNISON branch secretary inviting me to speak at the rally!

Thursday 3rd July

One of our members will be operating a one-man picket outside the library where he works - very inspirational!

Friday 4th July

Managed to spend an evening with my boyfriend, who remains steadfastly gorgeous and unrelentingly fair minded.

Saturday 5th July

More calls to workers. Most local government workers have had their pay cut by almost 20% under this government. One woman I spoke to was £400 a month less well off. She works with the elderly - helping them recover from injuries or long hospital stints. Where on earth did we get the idea that workers who do these supportive jobs should be on minimum wage?

Tuesday 8th July

Read an article by Owen Jones: 'Celebrate the Strikers this week'. This is why I work in libraries: a good writer uses words to lift you up & motivates you to be a better person, someone who is full of hope.

Wednesday 9th July

Spent the afternoon making placards with mum. Painted a banner to carry on the march. The cat helped by sitting on everything. Put photos of her posing with an 'end poverty pay' placard on Facebook, hope she goes viral.

Had a rehearsal with my feminist band that evening.

Later, I worked on my speech. Dad - being an experienced former union steward, gave it the once over.

Too nervous to sleep! Supportive texts coming in from colleagues who are sorting out last minute prep for our picket.

Thursday 10th July - Strike Day!

Eat veggie bacon sandwich. Drink coffee. Put on red lipstick for luck. Run for bus with banner and placards in tow.

Arrive outside work to find my colleague with a big smile on her face. People start to arrive. Someone has brought homemade cookies; another’s mum has donated chocolate. My friend hands out official picket armbands - am so proud to be wearing one and becoming part of a long tradition of workers fighting for their rights. We chant '2, 4, 6, 8! Britain Needs a Living Wage!' Cars honk their horns and people applaud us as they go by.

The local press come to interview us and take photos. The church opposite brings coffee to keep us going. One of our regular library users tells the journalist how she full heartedly supports us - it makes us so happy to have the public sticking up for us, understanding our contribution to public life, knowing that we deserve better. I feel part of the community.

We get the bus to Gloucester to join the march. Feel a surge of joy to be amongst so many people all united to make things better. We hoist up our banner - it’s like a huge sail in the wind.

At the rally, I am the last to speak. I have my speech with me but when I am given the microphone I am so overcome and so moved by all the people who I have met, worked with and marched with over the last few days, that I don’t look at the paper - I can see my colleagues, those who were on the frontline with me today and feel so proud of them and want to make them proud of me in return.

I put my fist in the air and pour my heart out.

July 11th

The cat receives the most likes out of all the strike photos I put up on Facebook.

Lindsay Martin is a library assistant at Cheltenham Public Library

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