Mansfield reacts to biggest rail strike in 30 years

Residents across Mansfield have backed rail workers striking over pay and jobs.

By Phoebe Cox
Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 9:31 am

The union said the strikes – on June 21, 23 and 25 – are a response to job cuts across the rail networks and pay freezes.

It said: “We want a transport system that operates for the benefit of the people, for the needs of society and our environment – not for private profit.”

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Andy Harkins, joined by wife, Helen, at the TUC demonstration in London.

Mick Lynch, RMT general secretary, said: "We will continue with our industrial campaign until we get a negotiated settlement that delivers job security and a pay rise for our members that deals with the escalating cost of living crisis.”

And many residents across Mansfield district have backed the workers, despite the disruption caused.

Diane Rose, of Warsop, said: “The average person in this country is suffering from the worst cost of living crisis most of us have ever known, mainly due to this government's policies.

“The government is refusing to help key workers in any meaningful way, at the same time considering lifting pay restrictions for bosses. This self-serving government has pushed people too far.

A very empty Mansfield Railway Station.

”Time to pick a side, and I stand in solidarity with the key workers.”

Carole Bargh, a Mansfield resident, said: “It is about saving jobs, one of which is my husband's. They are trying to close all the ticket offices down.

“Ask your elders if they book online or would prefer to use an office at the station.”

Kerrie Godson, said: “Too many at the top getting their pockets filled while the ones doing the work are being disregarded.

“I can't imagine how hard it must be for those relying on the trains, but I stand with all the rail staff in what they're doing.”

Sally Morawetz, from Mansfield, said: “I totally support it. As a disabled person I worry the closure of ticket offices will mean I have no real person to help me identify the best, most price worthy tickets.

“Many disabled and elderly people struggle with using the internet and too many of us have had bad experiences with automatic ticket machines which don't work.

“I am retired now but would have supported this when I was working - and called on my own union to fight for better pay as we see the struggles around energy bills, fuel costs, clothes poverty, food banks etc.”

However, not everyone backed the strike action.

Helle Rose, of Mansfield said: "It is good they are going on strike and something needs to be done, but it's not fair on anyone else, people trying to get to work or people going to college.”

Roz Belcher, also of Mansfield, said: “I am a key worker, my pay rise was not worth writing about. I do not support strikes as it won't save your jobs, look at the miners. Only one loser. The person on strike.”

Pauline Harris said: “I am against the strike. Covid has impacted on everyone and everything. By striking, the RMT are not going to improve the life of the majority.

“The entertainment and hospitality industries will be affected. I have never agreed with striking for pay, you know how much you will be paid when you start, along with opportunities to improve your situation.

”Yes inflation is rising at a horrendous rate, but this again is affecting everyone so why do they deserve special treatment?

“Job losses have been stated as another reason to proceed, if passenger numbers reduce and do not return to pre-pandemic levels then less staff is unfortunately going to be a direct result.

”As you won't be paid on strike days, it's going to take a while before you make up the losses especially if action is extended.

“As for bringing other unions into the fight, some people seem to have short memories of the long-term damage done by the strikes of the 1970s and 1980s.”

Rail worker Andy Harkins, from Warsop, has been on the picket lines.

He said: “Nobody wants to go on strike and lose money, but it is a last ditch attempt.“People forget there are many jobs involved, from operations to engineers. There is an argument unions are rejecting technology, but that is not true.

”This strike has taken years of negotiations and this is the final resort. I have been on the railway for about 30 years now.

“I have taken industrial action every time and probably only been on strike six days, so when people like to say ‘oh, you are always out on strike’, it is not true.

“Our terms and conditions are being shafted. Jobs are on the line.

“The drivers are not involved in the industrial action, those mainly affected are paid between £21,000 and £26,000 a year.

“And for those saying they are paid more than nurses, we are saying nurses should be paid more. All workers deserve a pay rise.

”Our fight is not just about money – it is about job security, and the safety of our colleagues and the travelling public.

”We are struggling but us workers need to stick together and to those saying we are selfish, you are pointing the finger in the wrong direction.

”Nobody has asked for this. The right direction to point the blame is at the government and bosses making these decisions that affect everyone’s life.

“People are angry.”

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