As the summer of disruption makes way for a winter of discontent, the UK is bracing itself for the biggest wave of industrial action in decades.
Politico described a “great wave” of public and private sector strikes taking place across the UK, meaning that “workers in a variety of industries are planning more walk-outs in the upcoming weeks due to the dramatic rise of inflation and interest rates and pay not reflecting these economic changes,” said City Monitor.
Railways, postal services, teachers, hospital staff and civil servants are among the many public services grinding to a halt. So who is striking and when?
While nationwide rail strikes by the RMT scheduled for the beginning of November were called off at the last minute, the union said the dispute remains “very much live” and it is continuing its re-ballot of members to secure a fresh mandate for action.
According to the BBC, Network Rail is preparing to make a revised offer to unions, but if there is no breakthrough in talks and members vote in favour, strikes could continue into spring 2023. It all comes down to whether unions and rail operators come to an agreement.
Train drivers at 12 train operating companies are still planning to strike on 26 November, according to Time Out, after the Aslef union said it was still waiting for a pay offer from the employers, despite ongoing talks.
The companies affected by the strike are: Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Great Western Railway, Greater Anglia, London North Eastern Railway, London Overground, Northern Trains, Southeastern, TransPennine Express and West Midlands Trains.
London bus drivers have announced a series of walk-outs in the run-up to Christmas. Bus workers will strike on 22, 25 and 26 November and on 1, 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 and 17 December.
According to the Evening Standard, members of Unite employed by Abellio in south and west London will walk out in a dispute over pay, affecting drivers based in Battersea, Beddington, Hayes, Southall, Twickenham and Walworth.
Following postal strikes in October that failed to improve the 2% pay increase set out by Royal Mail, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) is set to undertake industrial action again on the following dates:
- Wednesday 23 November – all network
- Thursday 24 November – all processing, area distribution, collections, and international
- Friday 25 November – all deliveries
- Monday 28 November – everyone
- Wednesday 30 November – all network
- Thursday 1 December – all processing, area distribution, collections, and international
- Friday 2 December – all deliveries
“Not all of these strikes will affect deliveries, so you should consult Royal Mail for details about specific strike dates,” said City Monitor.
Teachers in England and Wales are inching closer to the first national dispute over pay since 2008, after the largest teachers’ union for England and Wales, the NEU, said 86% of its members who responded to an initial ballot said they were willing to strike. They have rejected a 5% pay rise and have now launched a formal ballot to strike.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Scottish teachers are to take strike action on 24 November after union leaders won an overwhelming mandate to intensify a long-running wage dispute. “It is the first national stoppage by the union for almost 40 years”, said The Guardian, with unions in pursuit of a 10% increase in pay.
Nurses and hospital staff
The Telegraph has revealed that nurses, paramedics and hospital staff are planning to co-ordinate strikes over the winter “to cause maximum disruption to the NHS”.
The six largest health unions – Unite, GMB, Unison, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the Royal College of Midwives and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy – have held talks about launching a series of walkouts at the same time, “raising the prospect of already overstretched NHS hospitals being brought to a standstill this Christmas” said the paper.
Leading the way is the RCN, which decided to organise a mass walkout for the first time in 106 years this autumn.
Representatives of all six major unions are set to attend a crunch meeting with the Health Secretary Steve Barclay on Tuesday, with an announcement of strike dates expected in the following days if an agreement over pay is not reached.
The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), representing civil servants including those who work in Whitehall and those in frontline services such as Jobcentres, announced last week that the threshold for strike action had been reached in 126 public sector workplaces, covering 100,000 workers.
The walk-out could affect services ranging from passports to pensions, reported The Guardian.
No date has yet been announced for strike action.