Rail workers in Bristol have launched a picket line on Tuesday as part of a national day of strike action. It has been reported that around 50,000 workers have gone on strike across the country today.
The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) have said workers are striking over job cuts, pay, working conditions and practices, and pensions. Tuesday (June 22) is one of three days of planned industrial action which drastically impacts rail services not only in the South West but all over the UK.
Ryan, a rail manager who has been in the industry for more than eight years, explained some of the reasons behind why he is striking this week. “We are currently facing redundancies across the network, mainly in our ticket offices. The Government has planned to close all ticket offices in the country.
Follow live: Passengers face rail strike chaos today – updates
“One in eight tickets are bought in a ticket office and it’s going to be leaving disabled people, anyone who can’t use a smartphone and anyone who is illiterate and struggles with the ticket system, it’s going to be leaving them not able to navigate the network.”
The Government’s plan to scrap ticket offices is part of a modernisation scheme proposed across the rail network. The workers are also being faced with a three-year pay freeze – the RMT is seeking a pay rise of at least 7 per cent in line with the cost of living.
Lots of people have shared their support for the rail workers as they started their first picket line in Bristol for the week.
On Facebook, Matt Viney was in support of the strikes. They wrote: “If the whole population were like these guys we wouldn’t be in this position. The government would be forced to make companies like Amazon pay their taxes and close the offshore tax havens so they have the money to subsidise energy costs and end the cost of living crisis.”
Colin Firm agreed: “Good for them, at least some people are fighting for their rights, those people criticising should be standing up and fighting for theirs.”
“I fully support them – the Government cannot force redundancy and refuse holidays and decent working hours. All ticket offices closing? Outrageous!!” said Julia Rumbelow.
Not everyone was in agreement with the planned industrial action with some claiming it will have a negative effect on people trying to get to NHS appointments. Tony Wilkins commented: “Oaps and Children hospital appointments who’ve been waiting over a year being cancelled Because of they can’t get into Hospitals.”
Jonathan Bailey added: “Selfish, greedy and inconsiderate mob, holding the public to ransom. Just employ items to do their jobs and don’t back down t these people.” And Paul Roach wrote: “In times of crisis when the country is at an all time low, with billions of pounds of debt caused by the pandemic and inflation raging due to the war in Ukraine you can always rely on the RMT to make matters worse.”
While Carl McDermott blamed it on a ‘left-wing’ war. He said: “Just admitted to a war against the Tory government. Nothing to do with t&c. It’s a left-wing war. Shameful.”
Severe disruption is expected throughout the week, with further strike action on Thursday, June 23 and Saturday 25. Great Western Rail has advised people not to travel if possible and check your journey ahead of schedule in case of any changes.
The RMT has not ruled out future disruption and has warned industrial action will continue until a settlement is reached.