With news today’ of new strikes from Public and Commercial Services union that could significantly delay passport applications as well as the announcement of a pause in teacher strikes it is a good time for a strikes update to check in on the on-going strike chaos that has been hitting the UK in recent months.
Start date: On December 15th, 2022, Nurses in the United Kingdom walked out from hospitals across the United Kingdom for the first time in history. Additional strike action took place in January and February and more were planned for March.
Current status: On 16th March, after talks with the government, RCN and Unison said that they had received an offer from the government after productive talks and that they would recommend its members to accept it. The offer is a one-off payment of 2% of their salary plus a COVID recovery of 4% and a 5% pay increase for 2023/24.
Start date: In December, around 25,000 ambulance staff took strike action across England and Wales. Further strikes took place in February.
Current status: Ambulance staff are represented largely by GMB, Unite, and Unison and have paused planned strike action planned for this month for government talks. Receiving the same offer as nurses, GMB and Unison have told their members to accept the government offer. However, Unite has told them not to accept which could mean further action will be taken.
Start date: Junior doctors took strike action for the first time on the 13th-15th of March, stating that they believe they have had a 34.9% real terms pay cut since 2008. As such they are asking for a pay rise of that amount after 98% of junior doctors voted to strike via the British Medical Association (BMA)
Current status: Junor doctors have been offered the same terms as other NHS staff with the government stating that asking for a 34.9% raise is unrealistic. The BMA has called on the government to meet them today (17/03/2023) and they are hopeful of reaching a suitable resolution.
Start date: Rail workers have taken part in more industrial action over the past six months than any other sector due to working conditions and pay disputes. The first day of rail strike action took place on November 10th and they have continued on a regular basis ever since.
Current status: Workers, who are represented by RMT and Aslef, have been offered a 9% pay rise over two years but it hasn’t been accepted. Strikes on the London underground took place on March 15th and further nationwide strike action is planned on the 18th and 30th of march and the 1st of April.
Start date: Teachers across the United Kingdom first took strike action in Scotland on December 7th. Larger strike action across the whole of the UK then took place on February 1st and then again on March 15th and 16th.
Current status: Teachers in Scotland have received an offer that they have been advised to accept while teachers in Wales have also received an improved offer.
Meanwhile, in England, further strike action has been paused as the government has penciled in talks with the National Education Union on Friday the 17th of March to resolve the matter.
Start date: 70,000 members of staff at universities across the country took strike action on November 24th. Further strike action has since taken place in February and thousands are currently on strike at the time of writing (16-22 March).
Current status: Members of the University and College Union (UCU) want an improved pay offer and a reversal of the cuts to pensions. No offer has been forthcoming as of yet.
Start date: Postal workers first took industrial action on November 24th and many more strike dates followed, particularly in the build-up to Christmas. Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) are demanding better pay from Royal Mail
Current status: After rejecting an offer of a 9% increase last year, CWU members have voted to take further action throughout 2023.
Start date: On February 1st, around 100,000 civil servants across over 100 different government departments took strike action. Further action took place on budget day over disputes around pay, pensions, and job security.
Current status: The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union are calling for a 10% pay rise and protection for pensions and against job cuts. The government hasn’t budged so far, stating that their demands would cost £2.4bn.
Start date: Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) voted to take action this year which would have resulted in the first nationwide fire service strike over pay since 2003.
Current status: Before any action could take place, the FBU announced that its members had voted to accept a new pay offer.
Passport office workers
Start date: On March 17th, the PCU announced that more than 1,000 Passport Office workers will go on strike for five weeks from the 3rd of April to the 5th of May.
Current status: As this strike action has only just been announced, the government hasn’t had time to respond. If the strikes go ahead then it will likely result in disruptions to summer holiday plans for many people in the UK.
Final Thought – Strikes Update
The story on strikes is that we are at best at the middle of the journey. While the Government has seen some significant success in coming to agreements in some areas we can expect significant industrial action for quite some time. Whether the disruption further erodes the Government’s approval rating remains to be seen.