Strike news latest updates: Days of airport and road chaos loom as rail workers walk out

Related: Ambulance strike to go ahead as talks fail to break deadlock

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Millions of Britons travelling for Christmas face unprecedented travel disruption with strikes causing misery for rail and air passengers, and thousands more drivers taking to the roads.

Motorists are being warned to prepare for long queues, as an estimated 16.9 million journeys will be made across the UK.

The AA has warned that driving become a traffic nightmare – just as National Highways workers and control centre staff walk out for four days from today until Christmas Day.

The motorists’ organisation has issued an amber traffic warning for Friday and Christmas Eve, and experts are urging drivers to set their Christmas travel plans in motion “as soon as possible”.

And as fresh rail walkouts loom, some services will stop early tomorrow before national strikes from Saturday, Christmas Eve.

Separately, the Unison union said ambulance workers would stage two further strikes on January 11 and 23 in their dispute over pay and staffing.

NHS ambulance staff belonging to three unions walked out on Wednesday, and a second strike is scheduled for 28 December.

Key points

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NHS ‘close to overheating’ as unions reveal new strikes

Health leaders have warned the NHS is close “overheating completely” during one of its darkest-ever winters, as union leaders stepped up their pay dispute with Rishi Sunak’s government and announced more strikes for January. Adam Forrest reports:

Jane Dalton22 December 2022 18:44


Normal rail services will not resume until 9 January, as engineering projects and staff shortages combine with strikes. Simon Calder reports:

Jane Dalton22 December 2022 18:19


Welsh ambulance workers to walk out

The Unite union has announced its members in the Welsh Ambulance Service have voted to strike.

Around 1,000 workers are set to take action on dates to be announced in the new year.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite’s ambulance service members in Wales are striking because they see first-hand every day how the NHS is collapsing. They are dedicated life-saving professionals and are taking this step because they know the NHS itself needs saving.”

Jane Dalton22 December 2022 17:55


Union dismisses fast-track pay deal plan

Ambulance workers’ union Unison has dismissed the government’s idea of fast-tracking a pay deal next year for striking NHS workers.

General secretary Christina McAnea said: “It’s only through talks that this dispute will end. No health workers want to go out on strike again in the new year.

“But accusing NHS staff of making a conscious decision to inflict harm on the public by taking action this week was not the health secretary’s finest hour…

“Speeding up next year’s pay review body process won’t solve the current dispute, which is about the pitiful amount the government gave health workers this year.

“The Government must stop using the pay review body as cover for its own inaction. This year’s pay rise simply wasn’t enough to halt the exodus of staff from the NHS.”

Sources close to health secretary Steve Barclay said sometimes it could take time for NHS staff to see the benefit of any pay rise in their wages but that he would seek to encourage those involved in the process to ensure this did not happen.

Jane Dalton22 December 2022 17:39


Opinion: There’s no point telling Brits not to get ‘blind drunk’

ICYMI: Even when the NHS strikes end, maybe moderation in drinking is the way forward. It’s good for the NHS, for all the emergency services, for families, relationships and our own health, writes Harriet Williamson:

Jane Dalton22 December 2022 17:25


Ambulance staff to walk out again next month

Ambulance workers in Unison will stage two further strikes on January 11 and 23 in their dispute over pay and staffing, the union has announced.

Jane Dalton22 December 2022 17:05


Shapps warns fuel retailers of watchdog prices investigation

Business secretary Grant Shapps has called on fuel giants to give motorists “a fair deal”.

In a letter to retailers he said it was concerning that margins – profits – had risen year on year, ahead of general inflation.

Encouraging them to pass on savings to consumers, he warns that the Competition and Markets Authority will be investigating.

Jane Dalton22 December 2022 17:01


North Sea rig workers strike

Workers have started a 24-hour walkout at offshore rigs.

Petrofac workers on Repsol installations in the North Sea started their two-day strike on Thursday, Unite said, with a warning of more walkouts to come.

Sharon Graham, the union’s general secretary, said the 170 workers involved are taking the “latest action due to a series of unacceptable pay offers”.

She added: “Unite’s members are watching offshore oil and gas giants mount up eye-watering profits.”

Platforms affected include Arbroath, Auk, Bleo Holm, Claymore, Clyde, Fulmar Alpha, Piper Bravo, Saltire, Tartan Alpha, and Flotta oil terminal.

The union also said a further strike will hit the Montrose platform between December 29 and 31.

Unite said the dispute centred on the “removal of a 10% equal time payment, years of below inflationary pay increases, as well as issues around payments for Offshore Energies UK medicals, mileage and stand-in duties”.

As part of a separate dispute, Petrofac workers at BP installations Andrew, Clair, Clair Ridge, ETAP, and Glen Lyon floating production, storage and offloading facility, will begin a 48-hour strike on December 29 to 31.

Jane Dalton22 December 2022 16:40


Simon Calder answers your travel questions

Happening now: Simon Calder answers your travel questions:

Jane Dalton22 December 2022 16:17


Road journeys ‘to be 14% longer this year’

Road traffic analysts expect journey times on main roads to be around 14% longer than the same period last year.

Roads likely to be hit by congestion include the M25, the M60 near Manchester, the M6 in north-west England and the M40 in Oxfordshire.

National Highways said almost 98% of England’s motorways and major A-roads will be fully open until the end of January 2 due to it completing and lifting roadworks.

AA head of roads policy Jack Cousens said: “We are advising those heading out in their cars to be prepared for some congestion, especially on popular routes heading out of London.

“The rail strikes have convinced more people to travel by car this year, and while hundreds of miles of roadworks have been removed to ease the pain, it might not be enough to keep the queues away.”

RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said there will be “two frantic days of travelling just before Christmas”.

Inrix transportation analyst Bob Pishue predicted journeys would be 14% longer, saying: “With pre-pandemic levels of travellers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays – especially in and around major cities.”

Jane Dalton22 December 2022 16:05

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