Picket line protestors stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity at Fratton train station over ‘absolutely appalling’ pay offer for railway workers as first day of strike action begins

WORKERS, trade unions, and city Labour councillors took to the picket line at Fratton train station early this morning as the first day of the nationwide rail workers strike began.

Industrial action taking place today, Thursday, and Saturday has been triggered by the Rail Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) union following a bitter row over pay and working conditions.

Outside Fratton railway station, representatives from Trades Council, Unite, Public and Commercial Services Union, National Education Union, and Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union stood shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with RMT members.

Members of different unions, workers, and Labour councillors stand shoulder to shoulder on the picket line at Fratton station on the first day of the RMT rail strike. Picture: Emily Jessica Turner

Among them was Jon Woods, chair of Portsmouth Trade Union Council.

He said: ‘We are here to show solidarity and support for the RMT strikes.

‘With the cost of living crisis, workers have been left with no alternative but to strike.

‘Ordinary people are being told we somehow have to live with less year after year after year.

‘It’s rail workers today, but it could be nurses, or teachers, or social workers tomorrow.’

Those taking part in the picket line chanted ‘two per cent is not enough, back the RMT’ in a call for a pay increase more in line with inflation.

Penny Foskett, a retired teacher, wore her NEU t-shirt to the picket line this morning.

She said: ‘We had two years of key workers working all the time in dangerous and difficult circumstances, and in the end, they got a clap.

‘They are being offered a low pay rise when inflation is upwards of 11 per cent.

‘All these things are making life challenging for those key workers who were so vital to keep the country running - and all the while the politicians were having their fantastic parties.

‘The bosses and bankers in the city received the highest bonuses ever seen, but they have the nerve and the cheek to tell people to accept this.

‘It’s absolutely appalling.’

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Also in attendance were councillors Yinka Adeniran, Charlotte Gerada, and Cal Corkery, leader of the Labour Group in Portsmouth.

Cal said: ‘We always think it’s important to show solidarity, and to show we have workers’ backs.’

Charlotte added: ‘RMT workers haven’t caused the cost of living crisis.

‘We support their call for a pay increase in line with inflation.’

Labour leader Keir Starmer reportedly ordered frontbenchers not to join picket lines.