The word “strike” is now in every British person’s vocabulary. Walkouts have been an everpresent occurrence in 2022, and it does not look like they are stopping any time soon.
Thousands of workers are still planning industrial action, mostly due to unfavourable working conditions and the pressure that the cost of living crisis is putting on their wages.
From railway workers to teachers, strikes have now spread to virtually every industry. Many of the most impactful strikes are now suspended for talks, however there is no shortage of other walkouts.
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When are the next strikes?
Following action in mid-March, the BMA has announced that junior doctors will strike again from 11 to 15 April, citing a 26.1% real-terms fall in pay since 2008 and an initially proposed pay rise of just 2%.
This announcement comes after junior doctors refused Health Secretary Steve Barclay’s increased pay offer of 5% and a one-off payment of at least £1,655. The BMA is steadfast in its view that a 35% pay rise is necessary to make up for 15 years of below-inflation pay increases.
The BMA has warned that if pay restoration is not achieved after the 96-hour walkout, there will be further action in future.
The RMT rail union has suspended strike action set to take place in late March and early April in the hopes of reaching a deal with the Rail Delivery Group.
The work stoppages were scheduled for 30 March as well as 1 April, affecting 14 rail operating companies. The RMT also arranged overtime bans for 17 March to 29 April but it is not clear whether these have been suspended as well.
The affected rail operating companies are: Avanti West Coast; Chiltern Railways; CrossCountry; East Midlands Railway; Gatwick Express; Greater Anglia (including Stansted Express); Great Northern; Great Western Railway; LNER; London Northwestern Railway; Northern; Southern; Southeastern; South Western Railway; Thameslink; TransPennine Express; West Midlands Railway.
[Read more: Will the national rail strike affect London’s Tube and Overground?]
There will be no further bus strikes on Abellio London bus services after the Unite union announced that Members have secured an 18% pay rise.
There are currently no other strikes among bus workers elsewhere in the UK but, so far, only striking TfL Abellio workers have landed a deal, so there may be action in future.
The dispute between nurses and the government has been put aside for the moment. There are discussions of a deal for a pay rise for over one million NHS staff, including nurses, midwives, security guards and cleaners.
If the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) will accept the proposal, Agenda for Change members will receive a non-consolidated 2% pay rise for 2022 and 2023, and a permanent 5% rise for the financial year of 2023/24.
Even if the strikes are suspended for now, not everyone is happy with this deal. Harry Eccles, a clinical nurse specialist, told the Guardian: “It’s an insulting offer. It goes nowhere near what we set out to achieve. The job of nurses like me is to speak to our colleagues across the United Kingdom, across different unions to say we need to reject this.”
Wales has already rejected an offered financial settlement and, even though Scotland has accepted the Scottish Government’s pay offer, England is still on the fence.
“Following further assurances from the government, Unite has in good faith agreed to pause the strike action. If the meeting doesn’t meet these assurances, strike action will continue,” Gail Cartmail, Unite’s head of operations, said.
Both GMB and Unison called off the planned March and April walkouts after ministers promised detailed conversations to discuss a possible pay rise.
Unions have warned that strikes could return “with a vengeance” if talks with the government fall through.
The National Education Union (NEU) stated, after the first two weeks of strikes in March 2023, that there would not be any other walkouts until mid-April, after “intensive” conversations with the government started happening.
The union is arguing for an above-inflation pay rise and is taking action against the current government plan to increase wages by around 5% for most teachers.
Like others, the strikes are due to compensation failing to keep up with inflation. In teachers’ cases, real terms pay has fallen by 14% on average between 2010 and 2023.
The NEU ballot will close in July, which means that teachers can still call new strike action until then.
University staff in the University and College Union (UCU) have undertaken18 days of strike action in total across February and March.
The strikes affected as many as 150 universities and relate to pay and conditions and disputes over pensions.
The affected dates were:
- March: 1, 2, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22
Civil Service and public bodies
The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) is in the midst of a wave of strikes that started in December and are set to last “well into 2023”.
Some 124 government departments have voted to strike in total, citing “a 10% pay rise, pensions justice, job security and no cuts to redundancy terms” as demands.
Upcoming strikes include:
- British Museum: 6 to 12 April
- Ofsted: 27 to 29 March
- Passport offices: 3 April to 5 May
- Highway workers: 3 to 7 April
- DVSA: Dates between 5 and 28 April
- DVLA: 27 and 29 March
These strikes only affect isolated locations. For exact strike dates and areas, visit the PCS website.
Workers at the alcohol giant Diageo’s Leven bottling plant are set to go on strike from 24 March to 1 April after the company introduced a lower rate of pay for new starters without consultation.
The change to terms could see some engineering staff earn around 6% less.
More than 3,100 National Express bus drivers are undertaking indefinite strike action as of 20 March until an acceptable pay deal is reached.
The Unite union, which is representing the strikers, highlighted that NX bus drivers earn £14 after three years, compared to £18 after two for Abellio bus drivers under the new London deal.
Only a few routes on the National Express West Midlands network will be running, mainly those servicing hospitals. Bus users are advised to seek alternative routes.
More than 1,400 security guards at Heathrow Airport are set to strike from 31 March until 9 April.
The ten-day strike over pay is warned to cause “severe delays” up to and including the easter weekend, so air travellers should allow extra time to make their flights.
What is causing the strikes?
The strike action over 2022 and the upcoming planned walkouts have largely been in response to real-term pay cuts in the face of the cost-of-living crisis, and, in some cases, redundancies, pensions and working conditions.
This has been strongly exacerbated by inflation, which is at highs not seen in decades – 9.2% as of December according to the Office for National Statistics.
[Read more: How will train strikes affect London’s tube and overground?]