Monday, May 26, 2008

Marching on the Minster

On the march in York's Parliament Street

Actors, MPs, councillors, lecturers and shoppers got behind our strike on its final day. More than 20 picketers marched on the city's Minster on another glorious day of sunshine in York to round off the first wave of our action for fair pay.

We were buoyed early on by a visit from Selby MP John Grogan, whose constituency includes part of York and is covered by The Press. He had earlier sent us a message of support but today he spoke to strikers and gave us his backing in person.

Then City of York councillor Dave Taylor dropped by to give us his backing. We had earlier visited by his Green Party colleague
Andy D'Agorne so we now have 100 per cent of the council's Green group on board.

Conservative Parliamentary Spokesman for York Central, Susan Wade Weeks paid another visit to the picket line. She said her daughter, the actress Honeysuckle Weeks, from the TV show Foyle's War, would also be rooting for us.

More celebrety backing came in the shape of Robinson Crusoe. The lead in an upcoming series by American TV company NBC, Philip Winchester, signed our petition and gave us his support. Along with stars such as Sean Bean and Sam Neil, he has been in the city for filming over the last week.

Three NUJ national executive members turned out today - Michelle Stanistreet, Tom Davies and Adam Christie - along with Miles Barter from the Manchester NUJ Branch and our regional organiser Jenny Lennox. They brought with them the branch's banner which we hoisted in front of the building.

The University of York's UCU secretary James Cussens paid us a visit and wished us fraternal greetings, as did a Japanese lecturer in labour relations at York St John University and a trade unionist in his home country.

By noon, we were ready to move off on our march into the city centre. Our demonstration was lively, fun and loud - it surely made an impression on the Bank Holiday shoppers. From Newsquest York's offices in Walmgate, we marched to the Minster and then to Parliament Street.

There we staged an impromptu singalong of our strike song, which saw dozens of members of the public throw money into our bucket. Union members handed out copies of our strike paper The Stress, collected signatures on our petition, and shouted slogans on the megaphone.

From there, we went back to Newsquest York's offices and stood outside chanting our slogan: "What do we want? Fair Pay! When do we want it? Now!" We were certainly loud enough to make our point to the management inside. We rounded off our five-day strike with a chapel meeting and devoured a lunch laid on at a local pub.

Selby MP John Grogan on the picket line

Richard Foster sings his heart out in the city centre

A video of our end-of-strike march and rally