Strike action has little effect in Galloway

GALLOWAY managed to avoid serious disruption during Wednesday’s strike thanks to in-service days at local schools and dedication from staff members.

Hospitals were staffed, though some less than usual, and leisure centres remained open, along with most libraries and postal services.

But union leaders turned out in Stranraer to show their support and join a protest march and one teacher, Sue Clark, took to the playground at the Douglas Ewart High School in Newton Stewart with a banner.

One Machars primary school teacher, who asked not to be named, told The Gazette: “I think there’s an apathy around here when it comes to supporting this type of national event but it doesn’t mean the support isn’t there in principal.

“Some people are scared of coming forward, others are happy to have their own thoughts in private. I personally don’t want to be part of any protest marches because I feel it will achieve nothing unless it is in the larger areas such as the cities - who is going to see us do it here in the sleepy corner of Scotland?

“But I back my colleagues in the strike action and feel it is necessary to deliver our message of disgust to the government.”

In contrast, one man who works in the motor industry told us of his anger at the strike. He said: “I work for a private, local company and I resent that I should have to pay taxes towards the pensions of people who are causing utter mayhem across the country to get what they want.

“I’ve been on a pay freeze for three years and only take home a grand a month after six years with this company - which is only just staying afloat in this tricky time - despite having university qualifications and experience. We provide a service too - we keep cars on the road and make them legal. But who’s helping me out and fighting my corner when the price of fuel, rent, food, childcare all goes up? We’re struggling just the same.”

Lynette Murray, representing staff at Galloway Community Hospital, took part in the protest at Stranraer and said: “We fully support the unions and will countinue to fight for our pensions. The support is here. We’ve had cheers from passers-by and one person brought us biscuits.”

Councillor Willie Scobie, who also joined in, told us that having had a lifetime of trade union involvement, he agrees actions like this are necessary.

He said: “What we had today was a show of solidarity, people came out in support of a day of national action.

“There’s a feeling of anger at the way the Tory government are treating workers.

“We’re heading for a double dip recession thanks to their actions and the only people acting irresponsibly are Cameron, Osborne and Alexander - not the workers making their feelings clear today. The low-paid workers are being attacked by this government.”

Councillor Scobie also hit out at the lack of presence from Tory councillors to respond to the workers’ concerns, referring to councillor John Dougan’s brief appearance outside the Ryan Centre where he turned up with his children to use the services.

Councillor Dougan said in response: “I was on a family outing to the local toddler group at the Ryan Centre.

“I believe in democracy and if people want to express their feeling by srtike action well then they are entitled to do so.

“I am somewhat dismayed that a fellow colleague wants to turn this in to a spat.

Business returned to normal yesterday (Thursday) across the country.