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UK strikes 2023: Which workforces are striking or threatening to strike?


UK strikes 2023: Which workforces are striking or threatening to strike?


round 133,000 civil servants – members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union – are set to strike on the day of the Budget speech on March 15, potentially causing chaos in the UK.

Junior doctors and paramedics are also due to strike in March. And, while the Unite union has suspended its strike to enter pay talks, the remaining unions representing ambulance workers will still take industrial action.

The London Underground is now set to close for 24 hours on March 15 because of a strike by RMT union members. Tube drivers represented by the Aslef union had already announced a strike for the same day.

The PCS union’s planned action follows a failure to meet its demand for a 10 per cent pay rise, better pensions, job security and no cuts to redundancy terms. This affects all Government arms, including Ofsted, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Border Force.

So which industries are affected by strikes this month and when will staff walk out?

When will teachers strike?

NEU members’ strikes on March 15 and 16 could affect all schools in England and Wales. NEU teachers in sixth-form colleges in England are set to strike as well. The strikes follows a major day of on February 1, when half of all UK schools were at least partly closed, as well as other recent strikes.

In Scotland, the Educational Institute of Scotland is planning a further 20 days of rolling walkouts from March 13 until April 21 if a resolution is not reached. It is also set to hold regional strikes between March 7 and 9 in parts of Glasgow, Dunfermline, Perthshire, the East Dunbartonshire area, Mid Galloway and Wigtown West.

When will London Underground drivers strike?

London Underground drivers will strike on Budget Day on March 15 in a dispute about pensions and working arrangements.

The 24-hour strike was confirmed by the train drivers’ union Aslef on February 22. The RMT on March 1 announced its members would also strike.

Aslef said Tube train drivers voted by 99 per cent, on a turnout of 77 per cent, in favour of a strike. Alongside drivers, test train and engineering train drivers, including those in management, will walk out.

Finn Brennan, Aslef’s full-time organiser on the Underground, said: “The size of these ‘yes’ votes and the large turnouts show that our members are not prepared to put up any longer with the threats to their working conditions and pensions. We understand that TfL [Transport for London] faces financial challenges post-pandemic but our members are simply not prepared to pay the price for the Government’s failure to properly fund London’s public transport system.”

The RMT’s general secretary, Mick Lynch, said: “Our members will never accept job losses, attacks on their pensions or changes to working conditions in order to pay for a funding cut which is the Government’s political decision.

“Tube workers provide an essential service to the capital, making sure the city can keep moving and work long hours in demanding roles. In return, they deserve decent pensions, job security and good working conditions, and the RMT will fight tooth and nail to make sure that’s what they get.”

Rail workers’ strikes have been taking place for months, leaving many people unable to get to work and significantly affecting businesses. Unions are in conflict with the Government and rail companies over wages, job losses and terms and conditions modifications.

They say any compensation offer should take the rising cost of living into account – with inflation now at more than 10 per cent. But, due to the pandemic’s financial impact, the rail sector is under pressure to make savings.

Bosses say reforms need to be agreed upon so that pay increases can be afforded and the railway modernised.

Which civil servants will be striking and why?

Civil servants at 123 Government departments and agencies will also strike on March 15. This will be in an effort to exert “significant pressure” on the Government, the PCS union announced. About 100,000 officials in the PCS union will walk out. They previously went on strike in December and on February 1 as part of their disputes about pay and conditions.

PCS members in the Border Force and the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVLA) are among those who have already been on strike and more than 1,600 DVLA staff will stage a series of walkouts across England, Scotland and Wales between March 6 and 28. These will overlap with strikes at Ofsted between March 6 and 19.

The PCS is calling for a 10 per cent pay rise, which must include better pension conditions, no cuts to redundancy terms and better job security.

Mark Serwotka, the union’s general secretary, said officials were “suffering a completely unacceptable decline in their pay”.

When are junior doctors striking?

Junior doctors will strike for 72 hours from March 13 over pay and conditions, after 98 per cent of ballot votes were cast in favour of strike action.

The British Medical Association said that strikes would include a “full stoppage” of work including night shifts, on-call shifts and non-resident work. Furthermore, staff in A&E and cancer wards will also walk out.

When are paramedics striking?

Paramedics and ambulance workers, apart from those in the Unite union, will strike on March 8 and March 20.

Health workers at NHS Blood and Transplant, Great Ormond Street Hospital, the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool Women’s Hospital and the Bridgewater Community Trust will be among those walking out for the first time, Unison said.

Unison’s general secretary, Christina McAnea, said: “Unfortunately for patients, staff and anyone that cares about the NHS, the strikes go on. There can be no pick-and-mix solution. NHS workers in five unions are involved in strike action over pay, staffing and patient care. Choosing to speak to one union and not others won’t stop the strikes and could make a bad situation much worse.”

When are the rail strikes?

Four days of rail strikes have been called from March 16 to March 19. The strikes on Thursday March 16 and Saturday March 18 are the most severe, with limited service across all operators on those days.

On March 17 and 19 some services may still be affected, Network Rail has said.

There is also likely to be strike action on March 30 and April 1.

Affected train lines are set to be: Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Great Western Railway, Greater Anglia and Stansted Express, Heathrow Express, LNER, London Northwestern Railway, Northern, South Western Railway, Southeastern, Southern, Thameslink, TransPennine Express and West Midlands Railway.

RMT has rejected the terms offered by Network Rail and 14 train operators because they “did not meet the needs of members on pay, job security or working conditions”.

When are university staff striking?

Academics, librarians and other university staff who are members of the University and College Union (UCU) will go on strike on Wednesday March 15, it has been announced. This is in addition to five previously announced dates in March: 16, 17, 20, 21 and 22. Previous strikes planned for February and early March had been paused after a breakthrough with a pay deal.

The UCU leader, Jo Grady, said: “To allow our ongoing negotiations to continue in a constructive environment, we have agreed to pause action across our pay and working conditions and USS [Universities Superannuation Scheme] pensions disputes for the next two weeks and create a period of calm.”

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