Around 100 people attended an RMT picket line outside Ramsgate station yesterday (August 20).
The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) has been taking strike action over issues including pay, conditions and safety concerns for workers and passengers amid the threat of cuts to safety-critical jobs, introducing driver-only trains and closing ticket offices.
Members of The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) and ASLEF (Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen) have also joined industrial action.
As action has continued this summer, Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps threatened to impose new contracts on railway workers. The RMT says this is effectively ‘fire and re-hire’ on worse conditions. The MP has urged the RMT to accept an 8% over two years pay offer from Network Rail.
RMT rep for Southeastern, Mick Jordan, said: “It was another fantastic turnout at the Ramsgate picket line to with RMT members entering into a sixth day of industrial action.
“Despite the rhetoric from the government suggesting they will impose fire and rehire on railway workers, morale was high and there is a steely determination amongst workers and supporters to remain united until a deal is done.”
Ruth McDermott (pictured) said: “I’m on the picket line because I stand in solidarity with the RMT – they are striking for all workers, they strike for us all. They have the organisation and power to make real change and set a precedent.
“Everyone needs a pay rise. This is a cost of greed crisis and we need a redistribution of wealth so people can live comfortably without fear of being hungry or cold in the fifth largest economy in the world.”
Health campaigners were also on the picket line. Pauline Farrance (above) of Save Our NHS In Kent (SONIK) showed support for the workers by giving one of the RMT pickets a loaf of homemade bread.
A spokesperson for SONIK said: “We stand united with all who are fighting this government and its reckless and inhumane policies.”
The RMT has warned of an “indefinite” campaign of strike action unless a negotiated settlement with workers is reached. Strike action has disrupted rail services across the network, including for Southeastern, during June, July and this month.