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Trade unions mobilise across Britain in support of striking rail workers

TRADE unionists mobilised across Britain on Saturday in support of striking rail workers, as members of union RMT walked out for the third time in a week.

Nurses, striking hospital cleaners and porters, council workers, communications workers teachers and others joined rallies in around 20 towns and cities — as RMT general secretary Mick Lynch warned more strikes were likely unless bosses come to their senses.

RMT has also revealed that the government will hand rail operators £65 million in taxpayers’ cash in compensation for profits lost during last week’s three strike days.

Less than 20 per cent of trains ran on Saturday.

Mr Lynch said: “What we try to do is have the most effective strike action if it needs to take place. We’re not just pretending.

“It’s got to be a coherent and effective strike action because we don’t want to waste our members’ energy on something that doesn’t work.

“We’ll review that and see what we need to do if we need to take [more] action.”

RMT assistant general secretary Eddie Dempsey told a rally at King’s Cross St Pancras station: “We are being told in our industry that we must modernise. And when they say we must modernise what they mean is we must be poor, we must lose our jobs and we must do that to protect the profits of private companies that have been robbing the British people for years.

“Enough is enough. Our society is broken, our economy is broken and we are the people who are going to fix it.

“We say that if you are working class in this country, you deserve a house you can live in, a wage you can take care of your family on and protections when you get old.”

The rally was joined by workers from St George’s Hospital in Tooting Hill who have been staging a week-long strike this week in a row over pay and conditions, and calling for their outsourced jobs to be taken into direct NHS employment.

The crowds then heard from speakers including Labour MP Diane Abbott, actor and comedian Rob Delaney and disabled rights activist Barbara Lisicki.

During her speech, Ms Abbott said: “We’ve seen the private sector ripping off the public purse, bearing down on wages and conditions, undermining job security and we’ve seen a public sector that is increasingly demoralised.

“But the RMT is drawing a line in the sand against all this and offering leadership to working people everywhere and that is why it is so important that the RMT wins this dispute.”

Rallies in support of the rail workers took place in about 20 centres in England, Scotland and Wales, including Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Nottingham, and Swansea.

In Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, supporters met outside the town’s Victorian station with its statue of late Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

Teachers, university staff and communications workers were among the speakers.

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