The three strikes and protests hitting Hackney this week

A 'picnic protest' has been called for this weekend

A 'picnic protest' has been called for this weekend - Credit: National Bargee Travellers Association

Strikes and protests over three unrelated issues are affecting Hackney in various ways this week. 

Rail strikes that have cancelled many journeys this week are continuing to be felt locally, while there is also a potential walk out at New City College, and the river boat community is set to take action against the Canal and River Trust. 

RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport) union has called another day of national rail strikes today (Thursday, June 23) and on Saturday (June 25). The union has not ruled out further action with negotiations with the government and Network Rail having so far stalled.

Network Rail has offered a three per cent pay rise, dependent on efficiencies, while a similar offer is believed to have been made by train operators involved in the row.

Trains are scheduled to be running from Hackney Downs and Central today but Network Rail and local train providers have urged passengers to check before travelling. 

RMT assistant general secretary Eddie Dempsey said: ”It’s difficult for everybody but I think the public is behind us.

“It’s about time Britain had a pay rise. Wages have been falling for 30 years and corporate profits have been going through the roof.”

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch on a picket line outside Euston station in London, as members of th

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch on a picket line outside Euston station in London, as members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union begin their nationwide strike along with London Underground workers in a bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2022. - Credit: PA

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Hackney councillor Zoë Garbett, who represents Dalston ward, said: “Safe workplaces, secure jobs and pay you can really live on should be a minimum standard of employment. These are workers who could not work from home during lockdowns. 

“The government and railway employers have not offered rail workers a decent pay rise or job security. Instead, they have given 50,000 rail workers no choice but to take strike action, and we totally support the RMT trade union in taking that step.”

On Twitter, the Department for Transport has defended its action. A recent tweet read: “We're working with the rail industry to overhaul the sector and deliver a regular, reliable service, seven days a week.

“Now is the time for change and collaboration, to find solutions and to secure a brighter future for our railway.”

On the riverside, the National Bargee Travellers Association has organised a protest picnic in Hackney. The gathering, this Sunday (June 26) from midday on Walthamstow Marshes opposite the Anchor and Hope pub, has been called in protest against so-called “attacks” by the Canal & River Trust on the community.

Marcus Trower, the association’s London branch secretary and one of the event’s organisers, said these included "the current water ‘safety’ zones that will drastically restrict boaters’ ability to live and work around the River Lea".  

A Canal and River Trust spokesperson said: “The number of boats using London’s canals has doubled in the last decade. 

“Our charity works to balance the needs of all users while keeping our waterways safe, so we have consulted extensively on our plans. The no-mooring areas being enforced have never been suitable for mooring and no experienced boater would or would expect to be able to moor in a location which puts them or others in danger. 

“Even within the water safety zones – which cover an area of just over 10km and account for less than a quarter of the total length of the Lee Navigation – the majority of space will still be available for mooring. While we hope boaters will moor considerately, the process for dealing with those who don’t and who ignore warnings could lead to them facing restrictions when renewing their boat licence. 

“Our aim is to make sure London’s limited water space works for everyone who uses it.”

New City College, Hackney campus

New City College was formed in 2017 by mergers between Epping Forest College, Hackney Community College, Havering College, Havering Sixth Form College, Redbridge College and Tower Hamlets College - Credit: New City College

University and College Union members at New City College, a conglomerate of east London colleges, are being balloted for industrial action over what they call failures to agree pay rises, level up holiday leave, and agree action to reduce workload. Staff are also threatening strike action against alleged plans to fire and rehire 59 staff over changes to sick leave policy.  

The ballot will run until July 15, and if successful could pave the way for strike action at campuses across east London. 

Regional official Adam Lincoln said: “Strike action is a last resort for our members but they will not stand by and see their pay held down while workload continues to increase.” 

New City College has been approached for comment. 

Additional reporting by PA.