Pickets at Ramsgate and Margate on first day of rail strike action

Picket at Ramsgate station

Picket lines have been manned at Margate and Ramsgate railway stations today (June 21) on the first of three days of strike action by RMT union members.

RMT  is shutting down the country’s railway network today, Thursday (June 23) and June 25, saying it is due to the inability of rail employers to come to a negotiated settlement with RMT.

Picket at Ramsgate, staff with Labour members and supporting passengers Photo Tony Ovenden

The RMT say Network Rail and train operating companies have subjected their staff to multiyear pay freezes and plan to cut thousands of jobs. Despite intense talks with the rail bosses, RMT says it has not been able to secure a pay proposal nor a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies.

Train operators have now made an offer although there is no further offer from Network Rail following the one which was rejected last Friday.

The RMT National Executive Committee has now found both sets of proposals to be unacceptable.

Mick Lynch, RMT general secretary, said: “The rail companies have now proposed pay rates that are massively under the relevant rates of inflation, coming on top of the pay freezes of the past few years.

“At the behest of the Government, companies are also seeking to implement thousands of job cuts and have failed to give any guarantee against Compulsory Redundancies.

Photo Tony Ovenden

“The RMT supports the campaign for a square deal for all working people in the face of the cost-of-living crisis, and our current campaign is a part of that more general campaign which means that public services have to be properly funded and all workers properly paid with good conditions.

“RMT remains available for discussions that will settle this dispute and ensure our transport system can operate without disruption.”

RMT members taking strike action are conductors, platform staff, shunters, ticket office staff, signallers and Network Rail workers.

Photo Tony Ovenden

For Southeastern only 35 of its 180 stations are open.

Only the London-Orpington and Dartford lines remain open within London, running a very limited service.

There are no trains serving most of Kent, including the Medway Towns, Tonbridge, Maidstone, Thanet, Canterbury, Folkestone and Dover, with Highspeed trains only running between London St Pancras and Ashford.

Passengers may be unable to board trains at stations where a limited service is running, especially at locations such as Ashford and Ebbsfleet.

The last trains back from London will be much earlier than usual, so there is a risk that not everyone will be able to make their return journey.

Southeastern is unable to provide rail replacement buses or taxis and is reiterating the advice not to travel on strike days because it is likely that customers will be unable to board trains, or are unable to make their return journey, before the railway closes down in the early evening.

Southeastern Photo John Horton

Cllr Karen Constantine, who was on the Ramsgate picket today, said: “I was pleased to get able to join the RMT members this morning. Whilst no-one welcomes a strike, and RMT members did not take this decision without a great deal of thought.

“I support them because their safety, and ours, the travelling public, is paramount. Some of the cuts the Government are seeking to push through, will negatively impact safety. I spoke to one OBM ‘On Board Manager’, who explained he used a ‘bridge system’ to rescue passengers stranded on a train in a remote location earlier this year. You simply can’t do that without training and team work.

“Also plans to close ticket offices in favour of ticket machines are shortsighted and will cause consumer upset and delays.

“I will be on the picket line, which isn’t on railway property, this Thursday and Saturday from 7.30 am and I welcome local residents to join me to show support.”

Rail union TSSA has also served notice to ballot hundreds of workers at Southeastern for strike action and action short of strike in a dispute over pay, conditions and job security.

The union is demanding a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies for 2022, no unagreed changes to terms and conditions, and a pay increase which reflects the rising cost of living.

Ballot opens on June 23 and closes July 11 with earliest action expected by July 25.

133 Comments

    • Good point Peter. The usual protesters.
      Such a novel idea that the party of so called labour stop people from going to do their labour.
      Railways need more revenue so the unions come up with a cunning plan to close them, thus generating less income.
      No concern for children going to school, sitting exams and patients travelling to London for treatment.

      • Why don’t you guys direct your venom at the villains (the rail bosses and the tight-fisted government) instead of at the victims (the workers and the passengers who want a fully-staffed railway network)?

        This isn’t all about pay; if the moronic decision makers get their way then they will sack all the support staff, close ticket offices, automate the entire system, introduce more unstaffed stations and make the whole service cashless.

        • Too easy. You would think people would have had enough of this government after their behaviour the last few years-locking people up in their homes & stopping them from seeing dying loved ones etc, while boozing away in Downing Street pretty much daily. Becoming the most fined address in the UK-for the rules they made. Wasting billions on useless PPE via dodgy deals with their useless friends. Raising taxes while effectively cutting pay as the cost of living soars. Flying migrants out to a hellhole at a far higher cost to the taxpayer than was already happening etc.

          But no, people would rather back them & watch as stations get closed down, thousands sacked, the already substandard maintenance cut further so there are more derailments & deaths & injuries/deaths from less platform staff. Unmanned stations so women can be sexually assaulted/raped & people mugged as the perverts & yobs please. If the ticket machines are out of order or broken then no ability to buy a ticket etc.

          Lots of other unions now will be striking & that is the only way to get this useless shower to stop protecting the super wealthy & helping the average person-by bringing the country to a standstill.

      • They aren’t, the Unions held democratic ballots & voted for the action. It has nothing to do with the Labour party-in fact Mick Lynch & others have been quite clear they would like to know where Starmer stands on this.

        At least the Tories have the guts to come out against it in public whether you agree with them or not. Starmer says nothing while taking the Unions money/support & they are naturally getting tired of it. Time for him to show some leadership-is he really a socialist, or a champagne socialist like the Tories?

    • Officially no & Tory Boy Starmer has allegedly banned Labour front benchers from joining any pickets. However many actual Labour politicians, rather than career politicians are free to & will join them/show their support-that is after all what the Labour party is supposed to be, a party that stands up for the the rights of the working class.

      • Thats right Steve, and the RMT disassociated itself from the Labour party in 2004! This has all happened before, and this Tory government is following the song book, to bash public workers, because they are an easy target! Why are public service workers expected to take a pay cut, yet those in the private sector are getting a raise? Starmer is gutless, and no friend of workers, a poor man’s Blaire!

    • Maybe because they’re autonomous individuals? BTW, I don’t see many LP members there, but hey don’t let that get in the way of your badly set out opinion.

    • No, that’s inaccurate. The photos are of rail workers. The photo at the top is of workers only. The one that is captioned as having Labour members in it contains workers plus myself (a rail passenger and *not* a Labour member or supporter) and a grand total of two Labour councillors.

    • Christine, if you are not an athletic, techno-savvy, anti-cash, self-sufficient, selfish and unsociable person, then the railway bosses will not want you anywhere near the premises that they have hijacked. Anybody who needs any help, whether it is an answer to a straightforward question or help with luggage or a wheelchair ramp, is perceived as a threat to their unjustified profits.

        • As a kid, I watched miners’ and carworkers’ unions take turns in selfishly causing carnage, at a time when they already earned significantly more than most. Later, as an agricultural worker being paid one fifth of what THEY earned, I wondered why “Workers’Solidarity” didn’t stretch to miners and car workers demanding parity between themselves and the people who fed us all.
          Much later, I did do a spell as a rep. in the P.C.S. Quite happy to do advocacy. Finally resigned when politico idiots (in the ancient Athenian meaning of the word) drove gullible members to strike for an unwinnable political point.
          Today’s action is just plain sad.
          “Absolute Poverty” is long gone from the U.K. If you don’t believe so, watch “Cathy Come Home” or, read, “This Boy” by Alan Johnson. Even these spoke of times when we’d “… never had it so good!”
          Go back to work and thank your lucky stars!

          • The guys that cleaned my train throughout the worst of COVID are RMT members. They work for Churchill for £8.91 an hour, no sick pay. Go and tell them your views about poverty.

          • Guess those food banks that are more in demand than ever, including being used by people working full time jobs must be an illusion then Harry?

            One thing I agree about is the action is sad-sad that we have a totally corrupt & super wealthy government & ditto for people running the railways colluding to rip off the paying public while providing an inferior surface & ripping off their workers who are the ones making them those obscene profits & bonuses.

            Not that long ago Southeastern were found to have not declared 25 million of taxpayer cash.

          • Sounds like someone with bitterness about the past bringing it here and failing to understand that all workers are going to suffer in coming years, and standing together is how we will get through it.

        • If I’m talking rubbish, then can somebody please explain why there will be no staff at Thanet’s new flagship railway station that is being built on a greenfield site? The selfish decision makers have been trying to demoralise their own staff for decades and now they are determined to demoralise their customers too.

          • The ticket offices I often use in Thanet are either already gone (Minster, Dumpton), or very much part time (Westgate, Birchington), and there are countless others throughout East Kent and beyond. No big deal really – it’s not like these people help customers with their luggage or call taxis for them.

          • PC, it’s past 9:30pm and it’s probably time to put your brain back in its overnight jar. If you are as unpleasant in real life as you portray yourself via the keyboard then it’s no surprise that the staff don’t call you a taxi or help you with luggage. Anyway, who cares about you? It’s the visitors I’m worried about not the unfriendly natives.

          • Is this an example of rudeness? Or is it just an example of contempt for railway workers? “No big deal really – it’s not like these people help customers with their luggage or call taxis for them”

      • Their profits of course, because the hard working rank & file people (currently being demonised by the media & the Tories) allowing them to collect those huge salaries & obscene bonuses, that are usually 10-20 times what many of their workers make in a year certainly don’t see any of it & neither do the passengers, with the never ending fare rises for an ever poorer service.

        • South Easterm Railway’s official poster at the station stated “we’re very sorry for the inconvenience and frustration that this industrial action has caused”. What they really mean is “we’re sorry that our greed and warped ideology has been exposed by the hard working staff who are striving to provide the service that we would prefer to deny you”

  1. What a false photograph no doubt orchestrated by Ms Jeffrey. Fists in the air, how quaint. Very very sad indictment of our society with usual mob protesting but no doubt claiming as much as possible from State/system. As for train drivers, 60000+ a year plus massive travel perks etc, how is that a poor wage in this day and age. As for Labour Party, I despair.

  2. Bless them. They look like they need a few days off to enjoy the sunshine. Shame they can’t go anywhere; no trains.
    Looks like we need another Beeching Plan, fewer railways = fewer workers. Look what happened to the striking miners. pits closed.

        • Haven’t heard any Labour manifesto pledges to close airports, train stations & ban cars.

          I thought the Tories & Boris were the green party now-although being prepared to fly an airplane with six or seven people on board, or even one as some Tories insisted must happen on a ‘matter of principle’ on an eight thousand mile trip to Rwanda & back & trying to do this twice a week doesn’t seem very green.

      • Yes, it is sad they are buying into that Tory propaganda/lies-some train drivers might make it, but the ticket staff, platform staff, engineers etc don’t & again what people make in London is not what people working in this region & elsewhere will be making.

    • The guys that clean your train are on £8.91 an hour, no sick pay. They did that throughout the height of COVID. £8.91 an hour, you OK with that?

      • I’m not OK with being on minimum wage for the cleaning jobs I’ve done either, nor the washing up in hotels, or the finishing-at-2am shifts I did as a minimum wage doorman… BUT, we have to accept that there’s a pecking order, or do you believe that train cleaners and drivers should earn the same as each other?? If so, no-one will bother training or getting qualifications for more complex jobs.

        • They aren’t asking for the world Peter, just a reasonable wage they can live on. Of course nobody is saying cleaners should be paid the same as a driver, but all should be paid fairly & that is the issue-the fat cats getting richer off their hard work, where the disparity in money is totally insane & in a time when the cost of living is through the roof. They aren’t asking for the world.

          • In that case, surely EVERYONE on minimum wage should get an increase? Which will almost certainly mean that we go into a deeper recession, with ever more spiralling costs (I’m a writer who earns a lousy royalty rate per book sale, but I’m also a realist!).

        • They should indeed & that is what the RMT have been saying & it seems many other sectors will also be striking. The problem is all the people saying that are filthy rich, if they paid their share & didn’t get these ludicrous bonuses & golden handshakes for abject failure like Southern Sewage bosses & the TDC Chief Executive there wouldn’t be an issue.

          The disparity between the bosses & the workers has gone way too far. People earning 400 grand a year in bonuses alone-made off the backs of the people they are paying peanuts to, who could take 20 years to earn that , to where they have to rely on food banks to eat & have essentials is obscene.

  3. they have taken most things from us , but i dont think they have taken the right to withdraw your labour yet ? – i wish them well

    • Hardly-Tony Ovenden for one has been doing protests like this for decades. Whether you agree with her views or not & I don’t always agree with her Karen Constantine passionately believes in causes & does everything she can to fight their corner.

      This is hardly going to make anybody famous & in the current climate of the Tories & sections of the media portraying them as loony leftie Satanists might actually open them up to public abuse-I strongly doubt there is one person there doing it for social media likes.

  4. Bring on more strikes, this government needs to work for the people not for there own pockets. Years of being cut backs in all employment and now it’s time to fight back

  5. Rail travel assistants including ticket collectors, and guards – £33,310
    Rail construction and maintenance workers – £34,998
    Rail transport workers including signallers and drivers’ assistants – £48,750
    Rail and rolling stock builders and repairers – £46,753
    Teachers England (excluding London) and Wales average – £25,714 They earn more than teachers. Far higher than the UK average. Raking it in they are. All of this paid by UK taxpayers at a time when rail use has fallen through the floor. Billions paid by the Uk taxpayer to support workers on huge wages when no one uses the trains. Then they go on strike?! You can’t make it up. Gov funding of the train system increased by 97% in 2021. This money is all going to massive wages. 63000 staff and the gov want to reduce it by 2500 because no one is going on the trains and they go on strike. This is not sustainable.

    • And who pays for the roads?
      The motorist?
      No. The taxpayer.

      The last few trains I went on were absolutely jammed. And maybe if petrol duty was put up, and rail fares lowered, more people would chose to use the least polluting form of transport rather than the mostpolluting.

      • Put petrol duty up? and how are tradesmen and others to pay for that. What if you live in a village miles from anywhere? You talk about people being selfish look at yourself..

        • Why don’t we have much better public transport? Why have public transport fares been getting higher and higher for years? Why have bus services been cut? Why have roads been widened and new roads built? Why is the private motorist being pandered to by government while public transport users are second-class citizens?

        • Your argument is baseless. Almost no one who drives a totally *needs* to drive. They choose to do so. They choose to use the most polluting form of land transport. Meanwhile, those who use the least polluting are penalised by ever increasing inflation busting fares, and diminishing services.
          Once upon a time villages miles from anywhere had at the least a bus service. But because people embraced the motor car, rural bus services were (and still are) cut. Meaning that those who don’t drive (including the young, the old and the infirm) are marooned- because of the selfish actions of motorists.

          • Of course my arguments are baseless because you don’t agree with them. Let’s hope the electrician or gas engineer who comes to check or service your heaters etc says he can’t come because the bus didn’t come or the driver wouldn’t let him on with his ladder! Now I’m being a stupid as your generalised comments starting with ‘once upon a time’ . Finally some people need to drive to get to work!

  6. Of course the Labour Party show their support for this strike the Tories are the ones who actually planned it. It’s so Boris can call a general election by saying “ who ruins this country us b or the unions” in the hope the voters will vote him back into office. Wake up and smell the coffee it’s a Tories plan.

    • If only the Unions were running the country, rather than the current imbeciles who have run it into the ground. I think Starmer is missing a trick by not showing his support for the Unions/Working Man-that is after all what the Labour Party is supposed to be about, but Keir like Bliar is a champagne socialist.

      You can see the genuine passion in somebody like Lisa Nandy when she is being interviewed, just like Tony Benn or Michael Foot used to demonstrate. Starmer is just Tory-lite.

      • Starmer is being sensible. If he went down the Corbyn route then he too would become unelectable, but as it is even I am considering supporting him (having said that, I’d vote for Angela Rayner too, despite her irritating voice!).

        • PC, if you think that Starmer is sensible or that Corbyn was unelectable then you are unfit to hold a keyboard, let alone operate one. If Corbyn was genuinely unelectable or if his policies were unattractive to mainstream humans then the desperate UK establishment would never have thrown so many resources and smears against him over such a prolonged period

          • I read smears against Boris constantly… or are they truths? Same applies to Corbyn and anyone else of course.

            I personally would NEVER vote for a party that in 2022 still hasn’t had a female leader. The Tories don’t preach about equality – they just get on with it, producing two female PMs, and currently having one of the most diverse (in both gender and race) governments in the world. And prevents Labour from electing a female leader? The unions.

  7. Lovely to see Karen Constantine there! Maybe I’m a cynic but just maybe she is looking to bolster her support for the Labour Party selection process for South Thanet to be their parliamentary candidate and maybe some money for electioneering from the RMT.

    • Just doing what I am elected to do. Apart from
      that I’ve been an active union member since I was 19, and have spent many years working in the trade union movement. Each individual union has its own process for deciding which PPCs to back. I did previously seek such backing – very successfully.

      As you know I keep a website to try to be accountable and contactable. It’s (mostly) all on their or in the public domain.

      I fully back RMTs action, I’m surprised to note the degree of misinformation being bandied around. All workers should have a wage that is sufficient to build and maintain a decent life. All thats happened in the last 12 years is crippling austerity and now the Government is dampening and demonising valid and much needed wage claims. As a full time union official I lead many sets of wages negotiations and strikes.

      Don’t fall for the lies that the RMT and other workers are being greedy. They aren’t. As for train drivers – they are worth every penny. I don’t want to ever travel on ‘trains, planes, or automobiles’, that aren’t in the safe hands of qualified, trained, dedicated and competent staff. I bet most of you don’t either.

      • Strong word ‘lies’ still nice to see you and Carly are pals. Impressive CV though. Remember that for your election address ‘lead many sets of wages negotiations and strikes’

  8. So. Are all the people here condemning Minimum Wage working for M.W?
    I worked in the Care Sector on M.W. for eleven years. It’s sufficient. Whether it is personally satisfactory is an opinion – not fact- and, dependent upon expectation.
    As someone else said. If you don’t like what you are doing or, what you are paid…
    This strike is, like most in what were formerly Public Corporations; political protest dressed up as caring.

    • Harry, spot on. As I said earlier, I’ve done plenty of minimum wage jobs (and before that jobs with no lower minimum)… of course, we ALL would prefer more, but we also have to face reality – particularly following the double whammy of a global pandemic and war in Europe.

      • PC, when is it going to sink into people like you that this isn’t just about wages; the customers will be the lifelong victims if the unions don’t challenge the closure of ticket offices?

  9. This is the first time any of us have been on strike. No body took this decision lightly I can assure you.Like everything in this modern age everyone assumes this is all about money. Even though money does play a part in this money is not the issue. Changes to working terms and conditions, ticket office closures, security on the railways, cuts on safety and staffing levels have also been a deciding factor. No one really wants to strike but given what lays over the horizon we have no choice as the other option is to do nothing . Of which no one who possess a back bone will do.

    • Tony, I think that history will absolve the railway staff in this avoidable dispute. Future generations will quickly realise that the root cause of this type of dispute is the greedy attitude of the decision makers who will sack thousands of workers without blinking, coupled with the ignorant attitude of the “I’m all right Jack” commuters who couldn’t care less whether the ticket offices are closed or whether the helpful staff are unavailable to support visitors or the vulnerable ones.  One day the critics of this strike will become old or vulnerable themselves, or they will be less tech savvy than the people around them, and it will dawn on them that they had been brainwashed by the gutter press. Hopefully heads will roll at board level, the jobs will be saved and the service will migrate back into public ownership where it belongs.

  10. Our local outspoken “author” keyboard warrior is against the strikes meaning 100% the strikes are fair and just.

    I was already fully behind this action. I’m fundamentally against striking but the situation we are in is ridiculous and something needs to be done.

    I wish them luck.

  11. It appears that (almost) everyone wants to use any news issue to wage a political war. Personally, I’ve seen enough of war lately. First, against an unseen enemy virus with deadly consequences (when in the rush to protect the population, in a scenario with no precedent, no wonder mistakes were made), and now to support European integrity against a vicious and unpredictable tyrant. Both of these recent wars have and still will cost us dearly. There is not a bottomless pit of money to draw from. What we would like and what we can afford are two totally different things. Somehow, we do need to get more people to travel by rail – no question about that. But our reality is that passenger usage (i.e. income) is currently only two-thirds of pre-pandemic levels. If we were self-employed and our income had dropped by a third, we would have to make big sacrifices and live within our new means while trying to get back to where we were before. We would not be saying “I’m going to ignore my reduced income and spend more than I used to before.” Technology, where it saves costs, has to be used to the full. A different operating model then needs to be applied, to hopefully protect as many incomes as possible – but those affected will need to accept and adapt to a changing world, not believe that “the world owes me a living”. Like it or not, this is likely to be a new reality. Let’s all face that new reality, rather than live in the past or some future dream-world.

    • If we allowed the top-level decision makers to use technology to the full then it would be the end of society as we know it. There would be no ticket offices, all stations would be unstaffed, all supermarket tills would be self-service and most forms of human interaction would be a thing of the past. If that’s the new reality then I don’t want to be anywhere near it.

    • Then join an effective union.
      BTW: no one is looking for a massive payrise. But an acknowledgement that inflation is running at 11% would be nice. And an undertaking not to screw up people’s pensions, nor renege on pension rights and contracts of employment.

  12. At what point do people accept that there is no more money? Furloughing huge swathes of the working population for over a year was always going to have enormous consequences – in the short term borrowing and printing money; in the long term, repaying that money. Asking for pay increases now is pure greed, especially when most staff on the trains take hi.emore than an average salary, with excellent pensions, for not particularly skilled work. Sack them I’d say.

    • You can research how the UK wealth divide has grown exponentially since 2010. Quite shocking how people accept this. We now have more billionaires than ever at the same time as the number of food banks has grown.

    • When will I accept that there is no more money?

      I will accept it when I can no longer see people driving around in Bentleys, Ferraris, etc; and when all the casinos and expensive jewellery shops are closed. Until then I will continue to believe that there is plenty of money around, it’s just in the wrong hands.

  13. You object to people driving around in Bentleys, Ferraris etc? Not my mode of chosen transport but what is your problem? ever thought those driving them have worked hard and started businesses and created employment for others? Know doubt you want total redistribution of property value and savings?

    • Ian is an inverted snob who hates anyone even marginally wealthier than him, i.e., the vast majority of us (he’s a “self-employed community campaigner and backpacker” – whatever that is). As you say, many have worked very hard for luxuries, but even when people are born into money it doesn’t mean that they’re undeserving. I certainly don’t begrudge the majority of the Royal Family their status in life, ditto pop and movie stars, but then I guess I’m not such an envious or bitter type of person as him and his ilk.

    • I suppose any variations on Koeveot are just typos. Unfortunately it’s difficult ,if one is a socialist, to ignore these extremely right-wing commentators.

  14. How interesting Comrade Shacklock has gone quiet. Maybe he is one of growing band of fellow travellers who have moved to Thanet but may or may not have an interest in property elsewhere.

    • What a peculiar thing to say. Maybe Ian Shacklock hasn’t looked at this comments thread since 3.54 pm on Wednesday.

      • Marva, is Koeveot related to Koeveoet? It’s hard to keep up with all these aliases and trolls. Life’s too short to respond to every comment and smear. And anyway, the notifications don’t seem to be working at the moment for this website, so delays are inevitable.

        • Mr Shacklock Sorry if your notifications aren’t working for the website maybe you would like to answer my original response to your comment about people driving around in Bentleys, Ferraris etc and my response that they may well have worked very hard to establish a business creating employment for others?

          • I see no reason why I should ever respond to a stranger hiding behind an alias. But for the benefit of other readers, I want to state that I never said I objected to people driving Bentleys. I simply object to claims that there is no money available for public services. If the government can find money for war then it can find money for subsiding our railways.

  15. They should all be fired with immediate effect.

    Seems somewhat pointless to picket a station when there are no trains.

    What a shame, I would happily cross their pathetic picket line and enjoy doing so, if there was a train available to catch.

  16. Can’t think why the majority of the public wouldn’t support them- after all, most of the public are mad about cars and don’t use public transport, so a rail strike wouldn’t affect them.

  17. Ta very much Mr Shacklock Obliged for your clarification. Interesting your views on defending this country and helping others to defend themselves say like Ukraine and your view that we should subsidise certain sections of the public sector at the expense of defence spending. Still will leave it there as I can see where on the political spectrum you inhabit . Have a good evening and a good pint of real ale. Now the latter we would agree on!

    • Ian Shacklock did not say that the UK should subsidize ” the public sector at the expense of defence spending”.
      He said ” if the government can find money for war then it can find money for subsidizing our railways”, which suggests that he perhaps thinks the government can afford to do both.

      • I think it is quite right that the government is prioritising an increase in pensioners income over other things (I’m not quite a pensioner myself yet but I hope to become one, if only for the free bus travel!).

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