London Bridge picket line, 27 July London Bridge picket line, 27 July. Photo: Cici Washburn

Counterfire members report on the high morale and public support for the strikers on the RMT and TSSA picket lines around the country on Wednesday

Southampton Central – Julie Hope

There was a huge turnout at Southampton Central station on Wednesday morning as RMT strikers and their supporters stood in solidarity to highlight the injustices they are being threatened with by their employers. Southampton Central, as one of the main terminals on the south coast, saw workers from all over the area join together with supporting members in the community to demand that the existing terms and conditions of the employees are met, that there are no more redundancies from vital services – which could threaten safety of passengers – and that their pay is increased in line with inflation.

Photo: Julie Hope

Kings Cross – Clare Birkett

Wonderful and lively picket line at Kings Cross on Wednesday morning. It started off cloudy and then the sun came out. Around 30 were on the picket including lots there in solidarity. The UCU came with a huge banner. I had great chats with all the strikers and it really showed that the unions are the emergency services of human rights. Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell joined the picket line. Jeremy described the time we are in as ‘the summer of determination’.

Photo: Orlando Hill

Manchester Piccadilly – Ian Johnston

Don’t tell Keir Starmer! Rebecca Long-Bailey joined RMT workers on the picket line at Manchester Piccadilly station on Wednesday, in the latest 24-hour strike action over pay and working conditions. The strikers were in good spirits as the action continues to hold stong, with numerous passing drivers honking their support. This follows three days of strikes in June, with further action scheduled on 18 and 20 August.

Photo: Ian Johnston

Liverpool Street – Carole Vincent

At 7am on Wednesday, RMT members assembled for another day of strike action at Liverpool Street Station. They were joined by members and supporters of Unite, Unite Community, NEU, Unison and TSSA unions. 

The public talked to strikers, took leaflets and gave messages of support and there were around 20-30 people throughout the morning. Local Councillors from Tower Hamlets and neighbouring Waltham Forest joined the pickets to show their support. Aslef members are on strike on 30 July, continuing the pressure on the rail bosses and government to cough up more money, negotiate terms and conditions, and cease job cuts.

Photo: Carole Vincent
Photo: Carole Vincent

Glasgow Central – Mark Porciani

Photo: Mark Porciani

Solidarity action with the ⁦@RMTunion⁩ ⁦@RMT_Scotland⁩ in Glasgow central station this morning. #railstrikes

— Jonathon Shafi (@Jonathon_Shafi) July 27, 2022

Woking – Gary Griffiths

Spirits were high on the picket line at Woking Station. It was not just spirits but also determination, as the RMT strikers are prepared for a long haul if necessary. There was a great deal of local support from the public as they passed in cars, and voiced from postal workers, from the nearby Post Office Depot, as they went about their daily duties. Further solidarity was in evidence by representation from Unite Community standing with the pickets. At least one Aslef driver was encouraged not to cross the picket line by the official RMT rep. However, it was clear that he was already open to persuasion, indicative of the general mood of solidarity with the cause.

Photo: Gary Griffiths

Sheffield – James Black

Morale was good among pickets at Sheffield train station who said union members have remained absolutely solid on the need to pursue strike action until an acceptable offer is levelled by the employers. That would not include intensification of work tasks that puts safety risk, nor the cutting of hours, for instance.

Rail strikers are equally determined to fight off the closure of the ticket office as part of the employers’ plans; they highlighted how many elderly and vulnerable people continue to require this service, and that cutting it could be a gateway to further destaffing at stations.

Impending strikes from other rail unions and the promise of industrial action from communication workers, and threat of action by civil servants, teachers and NHS workers is also giving additional motivation to the RMT strikers. They recognise that they are at the head of a movement that has the power to win over even sections of the public who may have been initially sceptical or opposed to the strikes. “If all these workers start coming out, then those people are going to say, ‘hang on, there’s something going seriously wrong here’,” remarked one picket.

Photo: James Black

Newcastle Central – Tony Dowling

The second phase of strike actions can sometimes be a bit flat, but the mood among the striking RMT workers on Wednesday was very upbeat. And they had good reason to be, with the fantastic support they were receiving from both the public and the wider trade union movement.

At Gateshead Askew Road picket line there was really good turnout of strikers and lots of hooted support from passing motorists. Huge cheers went up when a delivery van turned back after speaking with branch chair Keith. 

At Newcastle Central Station, striking workers were joined by delegations from UCU Newcastle University, NASUWT, NEU and Unison unions as well as from DPAC. Our delegation of People’s Assembly North East members was joined by national secretary Laura Pidcock and Gateshead councillor Julie Simpson. And the picket was also visited by North of Tyne mayor Jamie Driscoll and Gateshead MP Ian Mearns.

Photo: Tony Dowling

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