July 27, 2022 11.38 am This story is over 23 months old

Commuters’ plans derailed: Striking Lincolnshire rail workers feel ‘attacked’

The union thanked the public for “tremendous” support

By Local Democracy Reporter

Rail services in Lincoln have ground to a halt due to strike action from a trade union who feel they are being ‘attacked’ by industry bosses – leaving the city with no trains on Wednesday.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers has called another day of strike action across the country on Wednesday, July 27, protesting over pay and job security concerns.

This day of action follows on from three days of strikes in June, which again saw the nation’s rail network brought to its knees in the largest rail dispute in over 30 years.

The RMT are accusing Network Rail and the government of prioritising profit over people. | Photo: Ellis Karran for The Lincolnite

In Lincolnshire, the East Coast Main Line is the primary service running on Wednesday, but even that is a reduced service that will not pass through Lincoln.

The strikes have caused Lincoln train station to close entirely on Wednesday, with a sign in the entrance door saying there will be “no trains from this station due to industrial action”.

Lincoln train station has closed its doors on Wednesday due to “industrial action” from workers. | Photo: Ellis Karran for The Lincolnite

A picket line has been set up outside Lincoln rail station by RMT workers, who say they are fighting for their rights as workers – after the government asked the rail sector to reduce costs by around 10% due to a COVID-19 pandemic-imposed lull in footfall.

The RMT argue this is not possible without thousands of redundancies, while also arguing that workers have not been given a pay rise in three years – despite Network Rail reporting a £1.6 billion profit before tax in the 2020/21 financial year.

| Photo: Ellis Karran for The Lincolnite

Some 40,000 members of the RMT union, working at Network Rail and 14 other train operators, are taking part in the strike, with just 20% of the country’s services being able to run.

It comes at a busy time nationally, with the Commonwealth Games starting in Birmingham this week, as well as a series of music festivals taking place over the weekend.

Stan Herschel, regional organiser at the RMT accused the rail industry of trying to “attack workers” with poor pay and working conditions, stating that as a trade union they could not stand for it any longer.

He told The Lincolnite: “Action is taking place because the industry decided to attack workers for calling out poor terms and conditions, the looming threat of 1000s of redundancies and not being given a pay rise for three years.

“We are doing this to protect workers. I feel for those not able to travel of course I do, but I am sure the general public understand, particularly in this current climate, why this had to be done.”

When pressed on what it will take for these strikes to stop, Mr Herschel said: “All we want is to get round the table for fair negotiations and so far that has not been happening.

“I want to thank the public for their tremendous support of our action, many understand that this is the way of the world right now and we are doing all we can to protect the rights of our workers.”

Lincoln Train Station. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

The Lincolnite spoke to one resident outside the train station, who was heading to the entrance to catch a train for a job interview in Scunthorpe.

They said they had no idea the strikes were taking place, as East Midlands Railway’s online timetable still showed a running train from Lincoln to Scunthorpe.

It is expected that the strikes will have a knock-on effect on the rail sector, with delays and busy services expected to roll into Thursday as people alter their travel plans around Wednesday’s action.