1. Governance
June 5, 2023

Which strikes have been settled?

Professions including bus drivers and nurses have settled or are close to settling strikes, but who else is following suit?

By Silvia Pellegrino

It has now been over a year since the UK started experiencing strikes almost every month from nearly every sector. The reasons behind it are varied, from pay issues to pensions, but the most popular factors are wages not rising enough to combat the cost-of-living crisis and unfavourable working conditions.

Some sectors have finally settled a deal or are in talks to do so, but some others are still organising mass walkouts.

Protestors rallied at the Budget Day Protest held in Central London
The main reason behind strikes in the UK is wages not reflecting the cost-of-living crisis. Image: Shutterstock

Fully or partially settled strikes


On 20 March 2023, RMT Union members voted in favour of a pay offer from Network Rail. The results were overwhelming: out of a 90% turnout, 76% decided to accept the offer, which entails a 9% pay rise over two years.

In response to the initial deal, UK Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “I am pleased Network Rail’s RMT members have voted to accept a fair and reasonable 5% plus 4% pay offer, over two years, that the government worked hard to facilitate.”

However, this does not mean train strikes are completely over. Other RMT members spread across 14 train operators have cancelled the industrial action scheduled but Aslef Union train drivers voted, in the second week of June, to continue striking for the next six months. “Once again our members have decided that we are in this for the long haul,” Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said.


In the previous months, over 1,800 bus drivers in London reach a compromise after a pay rise offer. 

Unite Union recently communicated that its Abellio members accepted an offer that outlined that the drivers with over two years’ service would be paid £18 an hour. The pay increase represents 18% extra on the basic rate, and a lower but still relevant raise on the other salaries too, alongside rest-day pay and overtime.

Abellio London declared that the basic rate pay rise resulted in an extra £100 a week, making the company “one of the highest-paying operators in London”.

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Since only TfL Abellio workers have seen results, there will be more strikes planned from other companies. For instance, 22 and 29 of June had been announced as possible strike days, alongside 20, 21, 27 and 28 June. However, these dates have been now cancelled, since drivers are voting on an improved pay offer. “From the outset Unite has been clear that Arriva could and should make an improved offer that has proved to be the case. It is now up to our members to decide if the offer is sufficient to meet their expectations,” Steve Stockwell, Unite regional officer, said.


In January, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) also took part in overwhelming strike action due to the pay cuts the staff went through and expecting more than the proposed 2%.

However, before the union could even begin to strike, the rise offer was upped to 12% instead of 2%, and the FBU members voted in favour of the deal.

Strikes with discussions taking place

Junior doctors

The British Medical Association is now ready to enter negotiations, demanding “pay restoration” for junior doctors who make up over 45% of the healthcare workforce. Junior doctors’ pay has dropped by 26% in real terms since 2008 and 2009, and in order to compensate for it, they are demanding a 35.3% pay rise. 

The Department of Health and Social Care declared “We are pleased the BMA has now accepted our offer to enter talks based on the same terms as with the agenda for change unions, which concluded positively this week. We want to find a fair settlement which recognises the crucial role of junior doctors and the wider economic pressures facing the UK, as we have done with other unions.”

Unfortunately, now the association has retaliated and decided to continue striking, with the last day on 14 June for 72 hours. More dates are expected too.


The first week of June saw a pay deal go live, which includes a 5% consolidated increase for 2023-24, which increases to 10.4% for those on the lowest salary bands, and a one-off lump sum of £1,655. However, Unite and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) have declined it, but it was implemented anyway since the majority of unions accepted it.

“More than one million of our hard-working NHS staff will begin to receive more money in they pay packet from today, including a backlog bonus for all their efforts during the pandemic,” health and social care secretary Steve Barclay said. He added: “We’re giving nurses, paramedics, physiotherapists and other eligible staff a fair pay rise, which will see for example, band six staff getting an extra £5,000 over two years.”

This deal did not leave everyone satisfied, though. RCN executive director for pay Colin Poolman said: “Our members have spoken loud and clear – their pay is far from fair and appropriate. It in no way matches the value or importance of nursing staff who have experienced a real-terms pay cut for the last decade.”

This is why another ballot is taking place, which started on 23 May and ends on 23 June, asking nurses al across England whether they want to start striking again.

Ambulance Staff

Since March 2023, ambulance workers in England started cancelling strike days after Unite entered talks with the government. 

GMB and Unison also called off the walkouts, since ministers promised detailed meetings to discuss improving the staff’s pay. These promises “relate to a confirmation that any deal will include new money, rather than placing further pressure on NHS budgets, and an indication that discussions about efficiencies and productivity savings will not results in attacks on the conditions of NHS staff”, according to Unite.

Unite’s head of operations, Gail Cartmail, said: “Following further assurances from the government over the weekend, Unite has in good faith agreed to pause the strike action. If the meeting doesn’t meet these assurances, strike action will continue.”

However, in some cases, specifically, in the south-west of England, ambulance staff are expected to continue striking, even if no date has been announced yet. “The strike action by our south-east ambulance workers is part of Unite’s escalation strategy to exert greater pressure on the government. We have always said that a non-consolidated lump sum for 22-23 would not cut it. So it has turned out. The current offer does nothing to resolve the recruitment and retention crisis crippling the NHS,” Sharon Graham, Unite’s general secretary, explained.


After strike days in May, teachers all around the UK are now getting ready to go on strike again. The most recent day, in particular, was 2 May and it registered the highest number of schools affected by mass walkouts than ever.

The four main teachers’ unions are the Association of School and College Leaders, the National Association of Head Teachers, NASUWT and the NEU. The latter, in particular, announced two more national strike dates on 5 and 7 July. The union has motivated it by saying that the government needs to publish the recommendations of the independent pay review body.

The majority of state school teachers in England received a 5% pay rise in 2022, and the government proposed a deal for a 3% increase in pay for 2023/24; however, the NEU rejected it since it was below inflation rates. Teachers in Wales received an offer of 8% for 2022/23 and then a 5% pay rise for the year after. 

The National Association of Head Teachers and the NASUWT too have re-balloted, but they did not reach the threshold to hold strikes.

A new entry in the mass walkouts club is the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), which says that it will ballot its members for the first time in history, with voting taking place between 19 June to 31 July.

There are also rumoured autumn-term strikes, coordinated by the NEU, which could potentially lead to days of full school closures.

Scotland, on the other hand, has settled the matter. Unions north of the border have voted in favour of a pay increase of 7% for this year and then a permanent 2% starting from January 2024. 

Ongoing strikes

University staff

Some UK universities may not mark their students’ papers this summer, since there is now a marking boycott by staff. This is only part of the action taken by the University and College Union (UCU), interesting 145 institutions.

The boycott started on 20 April, but it is still going today, until employers make a better offer. The previous offer for 2023/24 was between 5% and 8%, but it was not in line with the inflation percentage.

The UCU estimated that it could affect over half a million graduations during the summer months, even if individual universities are taking independent action about how to minimise the impact. The University of Cambridge, for instance, has confirmed that students will not be eligible for graduation until all their grades have been released.

83 universities are striking in the name of pay and working conditions, 62 over the same issues as well as pensions, and five just for pensions.  

Civil Service

No deal has been reached with the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), and its members have been on strike since December, planning more walkouts throughout the summer, even if no exact dates have been set.

More than 200 government departments and 100,000 PCS members voted in favour of strike action, demanding a “10% pay rise, pensions justice, job security, and no cuts to redundancy terms”. Despite a £1,500 lump sum for 2022/23 being offered, civil servants in Northern Ireland and Wales have planned more industrial action.

In addition, members of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency will strike for 15 days from 11 June, and 286 test centres across England and Wales were closed on 15 June.

This industrial action will affect specific areas as stated on the PCS website.

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