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'This is about more than wages' - RMT members strike across Manchester

  • National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport workers has called for strike action at railway stations across the country for three days this week
  • Picket lines form outside Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria
  • RMT say members they have been forced into striking by the government
  • Talks resume today between union, rail companies and Network Rail
  • Additional reporting: PA Media

Rail workers serving Manchester's rail stations have been forming picket lines during the mass walkout of staff over pay dispute.

Picket lines formed outside the entrances to both Piccadilly and Victoria Rail stations.

Dominic Raab said the government had to “hold the line” against the RMT’s demands for improved pay and conditions on the railways.

The Justice Secretary said the strikes were “deeply regrettable” and reform was necessary on the railways.

Network Rail’s chief executive, Andrew Haines, described the strike by 40,000 RMT workers as a “high-stakes gamble” by unions, and said it would cost the industry £150m and make a pay increase harder.

Yesterday marked the start of the most extensive rail strike in more than 30 years, as thousands of staff took action over casualisation, modernisation, pay disputes, redundancies and changes to standard working practices. 

A sign at King's Cross St. Pancras underground station in London as train services continue to be disrupted
A sign at Kings Cross St Pancras station    Image: James Manning (PA Media)

The strike is set to continue tomorrow (Thursday) with a minimum service today and another day of action on Saturday.

Many workers are worried that they will end up in a similar position to those workers at P&O Ferries, where they were made redundant overnight with no compensation packages or support in place.

The government says the strike has the capacity to have a serious and long-lasting impact on the economy and have urged rail workers to call off the strike.

What we are trying to do is save workers' jobs

NQ spoke to an RMT spokesperson outside Manchester Victoria, who said: "We're fighting for pay. It is an element in all scenarios - it has to be because the cost of living is going up for everyone, but it's also about more than that.

Changes

"We are not against the idea of modernising changes and practices but what we are against is the idea of imposition from the top, where we are effectively told 'you must accept lower terms and conditions, you must accept retiring later and working longer, you must accept paying more into your pension for less and you must accept that we are going to turn around and strip out jobs, remove safety protections, and workers'.

"What we are trying to do is save actual workers' jobs here. We aren't against changes, but we want to be able to turn around and negotiate them.

"The whole idea of us as members paying into a trade union to be members is that it turns around and gives us a fighting chance, so that it isn't the large employer against other lowly workers, but it's all workers having a body that turns around and represents interest and give us equal bargaining power."

A Manchester solidarity rally is due to take place at Cathedral Gardens near Victoria Station on Saturday (25 June).

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