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Google searches for ‘join union’ and 'how to strike' soar as rail dispute continues

The current rail strike and talk of other industrial action by teachers, post office workers, NHS staff and even barristers has seen a huge 184% increase in Google searches for 'join union', according to a new report. The analysis reveals the increase seen on June 22 in the United Kingdom was the highest level in over a year.

There has been extensive media coverage of the RMT union's strike action beginning this week over job cuts, working conditions, pensions and pay. A 'summer of discontent' is being predicted as other unions representing staff struggling with the cost of living crisis could follow suit.

The analysis, by recruitment experts Workello reveals that searches for 'join union’ exploded to almost triple the average volume within the past week, an unprecedented increase in Brits looking to sign up to a trade union, according to Google search data analysis.

Read more: Another rail strike to go ahead on Thursday as Grant Shapps accused of ‘wrecking’ negotiations

The data also reveals that searches for ‘how to strike’ have exploded 135% since the strikes began. A spokesperson from Workello said: “This week the British public have been faced with trains up and down the country coming to a standstill as a result of these strikes by RMT, leading to difficulties getting to work, attending events and appointments.

"However, the strikes have also encouraged a surge of online interest in joining a trade union, indicating the massive impact that strikers are having across the country. With more strikes across other sectors rumoured to take place in the future, it will be interesting to see whether these searches continue to rise, especially if strikers achieve their desired outcome.”

Teachers could go on strike later this year unless they are awarded pay rises in line with inflation. Unions argue that teachers' pay has fallen by a fifth in real terms since 2010 and that the profession faces a recruitment and retention crisis which is being fuelled by low salaries.

More than 115,000 postal workers are to vote soon on whether to take industrial action. The Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) informed Royal Mail that it would ballot staff with ballot papers being sent out on June 28 with the result announced on July 19 .

Meanwhile barristers will go on strike on Monday and Tuesday next week after members of the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action. More than 80% of lawyers balloted by the CBA backed a four-week strike programme in a dispute over legal aid rates for defence lawyers.

Strikes could also spread to the NHS workforce later this year if demands are ignored for pay rises in line with inflation. The Royal College of Nursing has asked for a pay rise of 5% above inflation, stating that “pay is a crucial factor in recruiting and retaining the nursing workforce”.

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