Geordies show overwhelming support after latest round of RMT strikes in Newcastle
The people of Newcastle showed support for the latest round of RMT strikes on Wednesday
Geordies showed overwhelming support for RMT strikes at Newcastle Central Station on Wednesday, praising those on the picket line for protecting "a job they obviously enjoy so much".
The latest round of strikes by the trade union yesterday followed protests in June with more to come in August.
The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers is demanding greater job security and increased pay to help railway staff cope with the rising cost of living.
Staff in the North East gathered outside Newcastle station on Wednesday to add their voice to the calls as services suffered disruption.
RMT Union spokesperson David King said: "I think the main thing for a lot of our members is jobs. All our jobs are under threat. They want to make thousands of us out of work.
"It's a choice of the picket line or the dole queue, to be honest. They want to get rid of 2,800 maintenance staff - the lads who keep the tracks in order and things like that."
Striking members were joined by North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll, Labour MP for South Shields Emma Lewell-Buck and Labour MP for Gateshead Ian Mearns on the picket line.
14 operating companies were affected as 40,000 workers nationwide refused to work on Wednesday.
Those companies include Northern, who runs frequent services to and from Newcastle.
Chief Operating Officer at Northern Tricia Williams said: "We've taken on board leanings from the previous RMT strikes last month and have done everything we can to offer a skeleton service on the parts of our network where we are able to.
"Services are also likely to be disrupted on Thursday, July 28 given the impact of the strike on fleet displacement over our 550 station network. Customers should check online before they travel. We continue to be keen to speak to the RMT to find a resolution and avoid any future strikes."
More strikes will come on August 18 and 20 after the RMT rejected an offer of a 4% pay rise backdated to January, a 2% rise next year and another 2% depending on reaching “modernisation milestones”.
NewcastleWorld spoke to Geordies trying to catch a train or use public transport despite the disruption, with the overwhelming majority speaking positively on the strikes.
Here's what they had to say.
Carlo: "People fighting for better conditions for themselves is a good thing. It's a minor inconvenience for me, I'll get the bus instead. Good for them - if I was working for them I'd be striking."
Jean: "If they want more money, the workers, fair enough. I wouldn't speak against them but it's just a shame for people who need to use it to get to work."
Kirsty: "Cost of living is going up, people need to make a living. It's not really fair if they aren't getting a competitive wage that isn't going to keep them in a job that they obviously so much enjoy because they are striking to protect it."
Pat: "I disagree with part of the strike only on the fact that innocent people who are trying to live their everyday lives on lower incomes are suffering - it's costing them [the public] for them [the workers] to strike."
Peter: "There are an awful lot of rail workers on really low pay. The mainstream media tend to be focusing on train drivers who are on a lot of money, but the majority of those aren't in the RMT."