MANCHESTER, England — More than 160,000 workers, including rail, postal, dockworkers and others, held a one-day strike across the U.K. Oct. 1, protesting sharp price raises and attacks on job conditions.
Railroad signalers, platform workers, conductors and drivers joined a lively picket line at Manchester Piccadilly rail station here. This was the first strike bringing together workers from all three main rail unions — Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen, and Transport Salaried Staff Association.
“I’m proud of this,” Andy Hourigan, ASLEF North Western district organizer, told the Militant. “The rail companies play one off against another. We’ve not fallen for this. To see the unity today is important.”
In all, 54,000 rail workers joined the Oct. 1 action. Backed by the government, rail bosses say they will only offer a pay raise that matches inflation if workers accept attacks on jobs and conditions. The ASLEF plans a further strike Oct. 5 and the RMT Oct. 8.
“Royal Mail bosses aren’t budging,” Communication Workers Union representative Darryl Daly told the Militant on a picket line of 30 workers at the postal delivery office in nearby Ashton.
“They want to make our conditions like the gig economy, with new starts on different terms and conditions, no sick pay and less holidays. You can’t be working alongside someone on less money. They want enforced Sunday working at straight time instead of double time.”
Here in Manchester a rally held on the Oct. 1 strike day drew more than 500 people.
“It’s on the picket line and organizing by the unions that we’ll survive the cost-of-living crisis,” Clayton Clive, RMT Manchester South branch secretary, told the crowd to loud applause. The rally was organized by Enough is Enough, a group of national union officials and Labour Party members of Parliament.
Pete Clifford, member of RMT in Manchester