Outsourced railway gate line staff strike for equal pay and conditions

Socialist Party joins Carlisle Support Services RMT members on the picket line – photo RMT union

“We need a political revolution” said one striking Carlisle Support Services (CSS) RMT member when discussing whether a Labour victory at the general election would change things for outsourced rail workers like them.

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party

“Will they bring workers like us back in-house?” questioned one picket. “Will they scrap zero hour contracts?” asked another who had heard Starmer had pledged that, but given his u-turns on many other pledges was skeptical whether he’d follow through.

One thing that was clear to these striking RMT members was that if they did nothing then companies like CSS would continue to pay them as little as they could get away with.

The CSS workers operate Northern Rail gatelines in the non-mainline staffed stations. Northern Rail operate mainline stations in-house with workers on average salary £12,000 a year higher as well as other benefits such as free travel, sick pay and being part of the railway pension scheme. CSS workers get none of this.

Strike action had previously taken place in February, with picket lines in the North West, but this latest strike action had picketing for the first time in Yorkshire aiming to expand union organisation amongst CSS workers here with a number on the picket line.

During the discussion about Starmer, having come to the conclusion they didn’t have much confidence in him, one of the pickets pointed to another RMT rep who had joined the picket line and said “You should stand!” When it was pointed out that I was standing in the local elections alongside other trade unionists for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, including a different RMT rep, pickets offered their best wishes for the campaign.

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