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Council death march protest; Unions mourn new pay deal.

Byline: By ANNETTE KINSELLA annette.kinsella@mrn.co.uk

COUNCIL workers took part in a mock funeral procession to protest against pay cuts yesterday.

About 300 staff, joined by the Grim Reaper, a top-hatted pallbearer and a cardboard coffin, staged the protest outside the London Road depot at Whitley.

The protest coincided with the day the council brought in the controversial single status pay deals, resulting in drastic wage cuts for many workers.

A two-minute silence was held before workers submitted a letter of protest to Coventry City Council.

Protesters carried placards reading RIP: A Proud And Valued Workforce and Single Status Is Killing Fair Pay.

About 50 more workers attended a similar procession at 12.30am from the central library to the Council House.

Tony Higham, regional organiser of the Transport and General Workers Union, said: "The effect of the processions has been very good.

"At Whitley the employers did not join us but they couldn't resist having a good look from behind the office blind.

"Public support has been tremendous and every vehicle which passed beeped.

"The death theme is significant - at one time the council would always seek to find a solution to any dispute with the workforce, but this council has completely failed to do that."

Mr Higham said the unions were now taking legal advice on forcing the council to re-instate original conditions, while every worker had been encouraged to send a letter of protest to the council.

Binman Kevin Taylor, aged 32, from Pridmore Road, Foleshill, said his wages would be frozen for five years, after which they would drop to pounds 14,500 - a loss of pounds 4,500 a year.

He said: "This will change my whole way of life.

"Everyone lives on what their earnings are now - we are all going to have to go to our bank managers and say we cannot pay our mortgages."

CAPTION(S):

D25901_4; D25901_7; MAKING THEIR POINT: A top-hatted pallbearer leads the protest march through the city centre yesterday and (below) Anthony Downes, aged eight, of Stoke, Coventry, carries a union banner. Pictures: JAMES BALFOUR
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jun 2, 2005
Words:352
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