Confusion as union march denied access to Hastings Pier

Hastings Trades Union Council Festival 'Reclaim May Day'. Picture by Angela Gallen SUS-160105-152859001
Hastings Trades Union Council Festival 'Reclaim May Day'. Picture by Angela Gallen SUS-160105-152859001

The organisers behind a May Day march have criticised Hastings Pier for not allowing them onto the structure.

Hastings & District Trades Union Council says it was agreed back in January that the march could enter the pier.

But the Hastings Pier Charity says it only agreed for a band accompanying the march to play on the pier and had set out chairs in preparation.

The Hastings & District Trades Union Council has said it plans to take the matter further.

Jonathan Lee, secretary of the group, said: “We thank everyone who contributed to make the May Day march such a vibrant and inclusive event. In particular the wonderful music provided by Sussex Brass.

“All around the world, the first of May is celebrated as International Workers Day, where the achievements of working people are celebrated and the challenges they face with their working conditions highlighted.

“The enthusiasm of the march however, was tempered by the decision by Hastings Pier on the day to stop the procession from entering the pier.

“An arrangement for which had been made back in January, 2016.

“Members of UCATT and GMB unions were the workers who rebuilt the pier and it would have been a fitting tribute to those whose labour and skills had brought the ‘People’s Pier’ back to life.

“It is also worth noting that in March, 2014, the GMB union itself donated £10,000 to the Hastings Pier Charity to assist in its goal to raise the necessary funds to enable the national lottery bid.

“With the large number of members of the public on and around the pier on such a fabulous sunny day, Hastings & District Trades Union Council therefore reluctantly decided not to pursue the matter in the interests of public health and safety.

“However, the disappointment felt at the decision by the pier remains and we will be taking the matter further.”

A spokesman from the Hastings Pier Charity said: “From our part, we thought the band was going to come on and had the chairs put out.

“But we could not allow 150 people to come on, have a rally and use a megaphone on a busy pier. There have been about 50,000 people on the pier since it opened on Wednesday.”

He added: “We would not have agreed to a rally on the pier.”

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