STRIKERS were encouraged to stay at home “laying around watching telly” rather than go to work if they didn’t want to picket in the rain, a union organiser said.

Public sector workers went on strike across Thurrock yesterday in protest at what was described as an “insulting” offer of a one per cent pay rise by the government.

Members of the striking unions – Unite, Unison, the Public and Commercial Services Union, the National Union of Teachers and GMB – picketed through heavy rain at Thurrock Civic Offices in Grays and the Curzon Drive depot, with some also joining rallies in Chelmsford and Southend.

But Michelle Bradley, Unison organiser for Thurrock, said some chose to go on strike “more quietly” by staying home during the downpour.

She said: “In today’s world, going out on a picket line isn’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea and the weather wasn’t kind so we said to people just don’t come into work – do those things you have to do whether it’s catching up on the ironing, visiting family or laying around watching telly – to say the pay offer we’ve received is not good enough.”

Thurrock Conservative leader Councillor Rob Gledhill had criticised the strike, claiming it was making life difficult for working people in the private sector, many of whose pay had not changed in years, while expecting them to foot the bill for a public sector pay rise.

But Ms Bradley said Unison members were by example fighting for all workers, not just those in the public sector or in trade unions, by demanding higher pay.

She said: “It brings everything down to the lowest common denominator to say that, just because one person doesn’t get it, others shouldn’t get it either – it becomes a race to the bottom.

“But if you enable people to have a good standard of living, whatever work they undertake, we will all benefit from that – it has a positive knock-on effect.”