Workers in many parts of the UK economy are due to take strike action as their unions argue the pay rises put on the table by employers will not protect their members from the rising cost of living. It’s led some to described it as “the summer of discontent”.
Travel seems to be the worst-hit sector, with strike action due to hit rail, bus and air passengers this summer. In addition, industrial action will affect courts, government departments, BT, post offices and postal deliveries.
There have also been threats from teaching and NHS unions that their members are prepared to strike if pay offers do not match inflation. Currently, inflation in the UK stands at 9%, the highest rate for 40 years.
So what are the key dates for strike action this summer? And which other groups of workers might take action soon?
Transport and travel
Train strikes will affect millions of passengers this summer. Members of the RMT and train drivers’ union Aslef are holding separate strike days.
The three RMT strikes, which are likely to bring most of the network to a halt, are on July 27 and August 18 and 20. The companies involved in the RMT strikes are: Network Rail, LNER, Northern Trains, Transpennine Express, Cross Country Trains, Chiltern Railways, Greater Anglia, East Midlands Railway, c2c, Great Western Railway, South Eastern, South Western Railway, Avanti West Coast, West Midlands Trains and GTR (including Gatwick Express).
Aslef members are striking for 24 hours on July 30, when it is likely that just one in 10 trains will run. Operators affected are: LNER, Hull Trains, Arriva Rail London, Chiltern Railways, Greater Anglia, Great Western, Southeastern and West Midlands Trains.
In June, London Underground staff voted for strike action. Strikes were held at the end of June and more strike dates may follow soon.
Ryanair crew in Spain have action planned for July 16 as well as July 18-21 and July 25-28 – and there could be delays. Bases affected are: Madrid, Barcelona, Girona, Malaga, Seville, Valencia, Alicante, Santiago de Compostela, Palma de Mallorca and Ibiza.
Meanwhile, cabin crew working for easyJet, also in Spain, have agreed to strike for nine days, including across the weekends of July 15-17 and 29-31. Again, delays are possible.
Criminal barristers are striking in a long-running dispute over Legal Aid payments, delaying cases. Strikes are due to take place on five days from July 18, with action suspended for a week from July 25 before recommencing between August 1 and August 5.
Court security staff have also voted to go on strike in a dispute over pay. Members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) employed by private contractors OCS voted by 96% in favour of industrial action on a turnout of 61%.
The biggest civil service trade union is to ballot its members for strikes over pay, pensions and jobs. The PCS said voting on whether to launch national industrial action will start on September 26, with the result due in early November.
The union said its members were facing an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis and Government plans to cut 91,000 civil service jobs. It is calling for a 10% pay rise, an hourly wage of at least £15 an hour, cuts to pension contributions, no further cuts to redundancy terms and a job security agreement, coupled with the resources “desperately needed” to deliver public services.
In addition, teaching unions and NHS workers have threatened industrial action if pay demands are not met. All of this could be a real challenge for whoever the new Prime Minister is.
Mail and telecoms
Post Office workers staged a 24-hour strike on July 14 in a dispute over pay. Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) who deliver cash and supplies to sub-post offices, process finances and work in administration are involved in the row.
The CWU said the action was in protest at a 3% pay offer for the 2022-23 financial year, alongside a one-off lump sum payment of £500, and no pay increase for the 2021-22 financial year. CWU members in Crown Post Offices went on strike on July 11, also over pay.
Unite members will be "working to rule" between July 15 and July 19 before taking part in strike action on 20, 21 and 22 July. Unite claims Royal Mail is "running on empty" and "depending on thousands of unpaid hours provided by managers to hold the service together".
The CWU, which represents around 40,000 BT workers, has announced walkouts on July 29 and August 1 in a pay dispute. Around 30,000 Openreach engineers and 9,000 BT call centre workers voted in favour of a walkout last month.
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