NHS nurse joins picket line at railway station in show of solidarity

Magenet Magenet

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Nic Cicutti of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust

Nic Cicutti of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust

Rail workers, RMT union members, and NHS staff formed a picket line outside Southampton Central today.

On the second day of nation-wide strikes, the largest in a generation, picketers came together to make a stand on the ongoing dispute over pay, changes to working conditions, and pension schemes.

“These were the Covid heroes,” said Nick Chaffey, of the Socialist Party for South and South East region.

He added: “We want to see the government respond properly. Workers should not pay the price for the current economic problems. Just sitting still at the moment means we were taking a pay cut.

“They kept the country running, and got people to work.”

Read more: Picket line formed outside station as strikes continue

Daily Echo: Nick Chaffey

Daily Echo: Nick Chaffey

Nick Chaffey

Southampton nurse, Nic Cicutti of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, joined the picketers today alongside other NHS staff to show his support.

“During the pandemic, the kind of people who are invisible in normal times – bus and taxi drivers, refuse workers – all became visible and were clapped, as well as the health service,” he said.

“How can it be that you clap us on the Monday but on the Tuesday you are not going to give us a living wage?”

Read more: Commuters and taxi drivers speak out on rail strikes

Summing up the reasons for the strike, Glen Hart, regional organiser RMT South England who co-ordinated the picket line, said that train workers have been “on the front line”.

He said: “Every year we have a negotiation to discuss our pay. This time the government is trying to make it political by undermining something that should be quite standard.

“Over the last few years we have lived in unprecedented times and our workers have been on the front line. They have had a pay freeze. They have not complained about it, they have just come into work. They are asking for enough pay to deal with the cost of living crisis.”

While some commuters were understanding of the reasons behind the strike, others were put out by the lack of services running.

Irene Mopin, 35, was travelling to the airport to return to France.

She said: “I’m not sure if I will be able to get a train for my flight at 12pm.

“I am flying back home to France. I will have to just see what happens. If I cannot get a train I will have to get a cab.”

Asked about her views on the strikes, she had a more philosophical answer.

“I am used to the striking. I am from France,” she said.

Michael Tom, 34, said: “I think if you want to change things it is a childish way of going about it, but I do understand the reasons behind it. I try to see both sides.”

South Western Railway (SWR), the main rail operator at Southampton Central, is only running two fast trains per hour connecting Southampton to London Waterloo.

It is reminding customers to only travel by train if absolutely necessary for the rest of this week.

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