Rail workers and union members in Wigan take further strike action

The fight goes on for trade union members working at Wigan’s railway stations as they took further strike action in a dispute over pay, working conditions and jobs.

Members of the RMT, including 52-year-old Steve Shaw, stood on the picket line on Saturday for an eighth day of striking, supported by Wigan Trades Council.

Staff and union members from both Wigan Wallgate and Wigan North Western stations turned out for the long-running dispute.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Read More
North West Ambulance Service staff face ballot on strike action

Mr Shaw said: “There are two separate streams of negotiations going on – one with Network Rail, which is signalling and maintenance, and the other one with train operators.

“They want to bring Sundays into the working week, whereas currently they are outside. They want to return to the default position of taking guards off the trains – which we’ve already had two years of strike action on. They want to introduce multi-skill roles for train and station staff, which basically means you’ll be covering two or three jobs.

"There’s over 900 booking offices across the country and they want to close the lot.

“There’s been no progress at all on the rail operators’ side, and Network Rail want to put these ‘modernisation reforms’ in place on maintenance. This would mean moving our members all over to night shifts, taking away all their day shifts.

RMT union member, Steve Shaw.

“They also want to get rid of 1,900 rail operatives – they say, with the introduction of drones and technology like that, that they can replace these workers. “And there’s no pay in-line with inflation for either set of workers in this dispute.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“They meet with us every week – we’ve been striking since June – but it is our view that it is just so they can go back to the media to say that they have done so, but there are no improved offers coming our way at all.

“The ballot under new anti-trade union laws (2016 Trades Union Act) is about to expire in November, so we’re currently going over a re-ballot period where we have to meet these 50 per cent thresholds.

“Under the re-ballot, we’ll have to have at least 50 per cent of our members vote for industrial action, and 40 per cent of that 50 will have to vote ‘yes’.

RMT union and workers take strike action for fair pay and conditions, and to defend jobs, on Saturday, October 8, 2022.
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We’re in the process now of going through the re-ballot again, which could mean another six months of misery for the travelling public.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “For the third time last week, and second weekend in a row, we faced disruption and disarray on our railways.

“Weekend rail travel has been on the rise since the pandemic as people travel to support their favourite sports teams, meet loved ones or go to events. “These plans are all now jeopardised and our economy is damaged as a result.

“Our railway is in desperate need of modernisation but all strikes will do is punish the very people unions claim to stand up for and push passengers further away.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
RMT union and workers from Wigan stations take strike action on Saturday, October 8, 2022.

“We urge union bosses to reconsider this divisive action and instead work with their employers, not against them, to agree a new way forward.”

Tim Shoveller, Network Rail’s chief negotiator, said: “Despite our best efforts to compromise and find a breakthrough in talks, rail unions remain intent on continuing and coordinating their strike action. This means railway staff forgo even more of their pay unnecessarily, passengers’ lives are disrupted once again and the railway’s recovery from the pandemic is further damaged.”