ALMOST a hundred public sector workers protested in Winchester today as part of the biggest collective walk-out the country has seen for decades.

Hundreds of workers across Hampshire went on strike in a row over pay, including teachers, civil servants, firefighters and council staff.

It is thought to have affected driving test and job centres, burials, the fire service and Winchester/Hampshire council services including meals on wheels, parking attendants and burials.

Protestors made themselves known with placards, whistles, flags and banners, as they marched from Hampshire County Council offices down the High Street, The Broadway, Eastgate Street, Friarsgate and St George’s Street finishing outside the Great Hall.

They chanted: “They say cut back, we say fight back.”

Traffic was reduced to a single lane in St George’s Street and drivers appeared angry, with one revving the engine loudly as the procession passed.

Simon Woolfenden, branch secretary for Unison’s Winchester branch, said: “Given the fact that my staff and members have come off the back of four years of no pay rises at a time of rising inflation and costs of living problems and difficulties, we just really need to at the most catch up with current pay levels so that my members can actually afford a reasonable standard of living, which at the moment they are not.”

Teaching was severely disrupted at Peter Symonds College in Winchester.

The National Union of Teachers has 144 members out of the 190 teaching staff at the sixth form college.

Union rep Nigel Fox said most classes were cancelled, but the college was open for students to use the library.

The striking teachers attended rallies in Southampton, Portsmouth and London, said Mr Fox.

A Winchester City Council spokesman said: “Winchester City Council has 22 staff absent due to industrial action. This is four per cent of the workforce. The council is providing services at or near to normal levels.”

Winchester Fire Station was unable to comment about the walk-out, with their area covered by retained firefighters from surrounding stations.

Among the unions involved were the Fire Brigades Union, GMB, National Union of Teachers, Unison, Unite and the Public and Commercial Services Union.