STRIKING RAIL workers in the north of England are continuing their action over pay. The station staff and conductors on Arriva Trains have now been in dispute for seven months.
They held their sixteenth one-day strike on Thursday of last week. Fellow RMT union members on another private rail firm, First North Western, have voted to strike over pay on Monday and Tuesday of next week. The groups of workers are then set to strike together on 23 and 24 August, in the biggest strike on the rail network since privatisation.
The Arriva strikers' action last Thursday saw a mass picket at Manchester's Piccadilly station to coincide with the beginning of the Commonwealth Games. They are demanding a pay rise that would bring them into line with other conductors, like those working on ScotRail who have £17,900 basic annual pay. One striker said, 'It was absolutely great. Strikers and supporters came from Carlisle, Manchester and Leeds. There were also joined by busloads of strikers from Newcastle, Doncaster and Hull. Around 200 people were on the picket lines at Manchester Piccadilly station. After the picket strikers and supporters marched to their meeting through the centre of Manchester's Deansgate shopping area carrying union banners. Builders working on nearby sites shouted and clapped support. Tram conductors and operators tooted their support.'
Arriva bosses have refused to take part in any talks with the unions. The company's response to the solid strike action has been to attack the union. Trade union representatives have been removed from TUC courses. Arriva has forced workers to leave health and safety training, and banned reps from performing trade union activities.
Arriva management failed in their attempts to scupper the strike when they turned up at the Cleethorpes depot. The Cleethorpes workers immediately sent fraternal greetings to the strike rally in Manchester and reaffirmed they'd be backing the strike to the end. The rail bosses are vulnerable to pressure. They have already made improved pay offers to train drivers on Arriva and First North Western, who are in the Aslef union.
Workers in the RMT are determined to fight on to ensure the bosses give them a decent pay rise.
Rush donations and messages of support for the rail strikers to RMT, Unity House, 39 Chalton Street, London NW1