As RMT members on National Rail and London Underground went on strike, Counterfire reports from picket lines around the country
Brixton - Unjum Mirza
A solid picket line of RMT trains and station grades and Aslef activists helped bring the entire Victoria Line to a standstill. RMT member Abel said:
“It saddens me that the company I work for refuses to listen and protect our jobs and rights. Striking is always painful for me as it affects so many of my loved ones who use the service day in, day out. They support the cause and understand and that is the additional fuel that keeps me going on the picket”
Crewe - Sam Colclough
Doncaster - John Westmoreland
The RMT had pickets at three gates in Doncaster. The mood was determined and confident. RMT rep Dale Northedge said that the public was overwhelmingly supportive. They understand that this is a fight for all workers facing rampant inflation and wage stagnation. A delegation from Aslef delivered money and a strong message of support. Only one train ran from Doncaster this morning, and apart from that the strike is solid.
Glasgow - Mark Porciani and Sophie Johnson
A solid picket line was present when my Hackney Taxi arrived outside Glasgow Central Station at 7am. The taxi driver on the way in was very supportive of the strike. His cab had leaflets for the latest Unite campaign for the taxi drivers in the city. Clydeside has a long and good tradition of organising taxi drivers.
Glasgow Central Station is one of Scotland busiest transport hubs and only handful of trains were coming in. The concourse was so empty it lead to Police Scotland packing up there taser demonstration that was due to happen there today. As this dispute involves signal workers, another solid picket line was at Network Rail site in the Springburn area of the city.
Former Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard MSP, Matt Kerr Councillor and former MSP Neil Findlay were present. Activists from other unions including Glasgow City Unison also turned up throughout the morning to show solidarity. At lunchtime the GMB cleansing workers who struck and marched with Greta Thunberg at the Cop26 last November arrived and sang with the RMT pickets.
There is a real mood to back this strike. We should all visit the picket lines and build this strike. Workers passing the picket lines were 99.9% in support. Solidarity can help bring victory! Glasgow Central Station picket lines this Thursday and Saturday are on from 7am until mid afternoon.
Harrow-on-the-Hill - Shabbir Lakha
The mood on the picket lines at Harrow-on-the-Hill station was defiant this morning. The pickets were getting lots of public support and one man stopped by to tell the strikers, “you’re facing a nasty and vicious government, we all support you and hope you stick with it and win”. The pickets told me there has been a definite change in the response from the public compared to previous tube strikes and that the outpouring of solidarity has encouraged them to keep fighting.
High Barnet - Ramona McCartney
Kings Cross - Clare Birkett
Leamington Spa - Kieran Crowe
Leamington Spa station was shutdown – along with basically all the railway locally – this morning. Workers from the two train operating companies service the station, Great Western and West Midlands, were having an upbeat picket line in the Solstice sun and getting plenty of honks of support from the passing traffic. Workers said that they’d be back on Thursday and Saturday and were looking forward to.
Leytonstone - Carole Vincent
RMT union members started their strike against tube and rail bosses' attempts to take away hard fought for pensions, wages, working terms and conditions, and passengers safety.
The first day of three days of strike today saw tube and rail lines ground to a halt. A defiant RMT General Secretary, Mick Lynch to thousands at the TUC national demonstration on Saturday that, "We are in the fight of our lives" to tumultuous applause from union members, campaigning groups and organisations from around the country.
He vowed that this was just the start of the fightback of workers in this country against the greed of fatcat bosses and the Tory government, as the ordinary person on the street starts to feel 'the squeeze' with price rises on everything including transport costs to & from work.
An RMT dispute which is not in its first day of action, but continues is that of tube workers in London who have been on strike since 2021 and are continuing their fight for six hundred jobs due to be axed, retention of their pensions, passenger and worker safety, and a wage increase following three years of no increase whilst inflation hits eleven percent.
The RMT members strike action continues on the rail network this Thursday 23 June and on Saturday 25 June. Please support the RMT workers however you can.
Liverpool Street - Chris Nineham
London Bridge - Cici Washburn
RMT station staff on the tube and National Rail staff on South East trains were on the picket lines in force at London Bridge this morning. The mood was buoyant and lively with many workers on strike for the first time. The National Rail picket grew throughout the morning with revenue, line control, platform staff, team leaders and many more workers joining the pickets. The strikers spoke excitedly about the Aslef drivers and TSSA staff balloting and see today's action as them taking the first steps and soon they will all be out striking together.
Workers from the tube picket line up the road joined the rail picket line and made plans to attend each other's branch meetings. Many workers were on the phone to fellow workers who couldn’t attend the pickets due to the strikes being so solid. Cyclists went past with fists in the air shouting “big up the RMT, solidarity comrades!”, cars and busses tooted. A woman brought homemade cakes and an envelope with cash she had collected in solidarity. The workers said they really felt that the government and media attacks on them and their right to strike weren’t working and that they have public support and teachers and NHS staff among others are in the same boat.
Manchester Piccadilly - Martin Hall, Jack Hopkins
There was good support for the RMT strike picket line this morning in Sheffield (staff and user entrances)! Morale was good among strikers and they are buoyed by other unions' ballots for industrial action on the weekend. Reps from Unite, CWU, NEU, Acorn and a Labour councillor came to show support and BBC radio came to cover the strike.
Slough - Margery Thorogood
York - Dominic Sorrell
York is a city very much built on the railway, and remains the lifeblood of the town. Today, the workers that keep our trains running were out in force at three picket lines across the city. At York Station, the mood was upbeat, if a little reserved. We must remember that, as much as we support the fight of workers for their rights, it is never easy for anyone to go on strike, particularly when the government and media are vehemently against you. Some of those I spoke to today were unsure if they had the people’s support. It’s unsurprising given the endless interviews of how “disruptive” these strikes will be. The BBC in their 6 o’clock program featured York with talks from seemingly everyone, except the actual workers in the struggle!
That is why it is so important to show your solidarity in person. The hoots and waves from bus drivers and passers-by boost the morale of a workforce striking not by choice, but by necessity. It was clear from talking with the rail workers pictured (most of whom were conductors, not on the “exorbitant” salaries that some mistakenly believe they’re on) that they just want the opportunity to have meaningful discussions with their employers. This is not about outrageous pay rises, or “holding the country hostage”, this is about the rights of RMT members, and the rights of us all in the world of work.
As these strikes progress, we cannot allow the momentum to slip. It is inevitable that the situation will become more hostile over the coming days and weeks, with the government looking to criminalise these very same people they were praising as “heroes” just a couple of years ago during the pandemic. The excuses are always the same, “there’s not enough money”, “we must maintain the profitability of the railways”, “there are many workers on less”; it’s all lies and distraction from the fact that the government is complacently ruining public services in a ruthless drive towards privatisation. None of this is in the public interest. We must bear the disruption in solidarity with the rail workers.
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