As the scandal around ticket office closures rumbles on, the National Union of Rail, Transport, and Maritime Workers (RMT) has staged a day of action to highlight just why the Tories’ and train operators’ plans are such a bad idea.
Ticket office closures: Tories and train operators in cahoots
As the Canary has been documenting, the Tories and train operators have been in cahoots to close most ticket offices across the country. However, people have hit back furiously – including chronically ill and disabled people. This is because, as we previously wrote:
23% of disabled people are internet non-users. Ticket vending machines are often inaccessible. Plus, wheelchair users can only get their 50% discount on tickets from an office.
Train operators are counter-claiming that they’ll redeploy ticket office staff on stations. However, research by the Association of British Commuters (ABC) has shown this not to be true. Plus, the government and train operators tried to get away with only performing a 21-day public consultation on the issue – which, after more public outrage and threats of legal action, they had to back down over.
Amid all this, RMT has also been central to the fight back. General secretary Mick Lynch said the union would:
bring into effect the full industrial force of the union to stop any plans to close ticket offices
So, the RMT has been actively campaigning around the issue – to the point where train operators have threatened its members with disciplinary action over their activism. Not that the RMT and workers are shook – instead, they held a day of action over the issue on Wednesday 9 August.
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The RMT: fighting back across the country
The union said in a press release that it:
has called two days of action this month for tomorrow and August 16 after the government extended the flawed consultation process to September
— OutsiderSue 💛🌤 (@SusanFairweathe) August 9, 2023
— RMT (@RMTunion) August 9, 2023
Campaigners gave out postcards which people could write their comments about ticket office closures on. Then, they could send them into passenger group Transport Focus, which would submit them to the official consultation. Disability rights campaigner Paula Peters did this in Bromely, South London:
Today @and_unite & @paulapeters2 have spent a few hours leafletting passengers & members of the public on ticket office closures at Bromley South
We handed out over 1000 cards this morning pic.twitter.com/5cg5HSXpCT
— paula peters (@paulapeters2) August 9, 2023
People also highlighted the problems with only having ticket machines:
My journey this morning perfectly illustrates why we need to #SaveTicketOffices. The machine at my station was damaged (again), so I tried to buy a ticket on the train. The guard had been called in at short notice and didn’t have a ticket machine.
— Gemma Pettman (@GemmaPettmanPR) August 9, 2023
— Flower Show Presents (@flowershowpres) August 9, 2023
Action extended as far north as Glasgow:
— RMT (@RMTunion) August 9, 2023
There was a health dose of sarcasm in York:
— RMT North East Regional Council (@RMTNorthEast) August 9, 2023
However, this is not the end of the RMT’s campaign. As well as the second national day of action on 16 August, the union is holding a rally outside Downing Street. This will take place on Thursday 31 August at 6pm:
Ticket office closures: further regression of the rail network
As Lynch summed up:
Together we need to mobilise to defeat these plans which are part of the Tory government’s agenda of dehumanising the railway on behalf of the private operators and their shareholder.
It seems that there’s strong public opinion against ticket office closures – although it’s difficult to gauge via social media alone. However, what is clear it that the Tories’ and train operators’ plans would be terrible for chronically ill, disabled, and older people. It would represent the further degradation of our rail service – which has successively regressed since the disastrous Tory privatisation of the 1990s.
So, all power to the RMT for its opposition. Now, more people need to join it in fighting these dire plans.
Featured image via the RMTSupport us and go ad-free
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