Strike action is continuing to disrupt key services as trade unions walk out in disputes over pay and working conditions amid the cost of living crisis

Walkouts have affected everything from rail services and Royal Mail deliveries to NHS nurses, ambulance staff and teachers this year.

Here’s what we know about when these strikes could end, and the latest on the disputes.

Nursing strikes

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has paused a two-day strike planned for next week after the Government agreed to reopen discussions over pay.

Thousands of nurses at 128 services across England were set to walk out from 1-3 March in a significant escalation of the long-running dispute over pay and staffing. For the first time, the action would have included intensive care and emergency nursing staff – raising fears of a dramatic impact on patients.

The Government has recommended nurses receive a 3.5 per cent pay award for the 2023-24 financial year under proposals made to the independent NHS pay review body.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said: “Pay awards above this level would require trade-offs for public service delivery or further government borrowing at a time when headroom against fiscal rules is historically low and sustainable public finances are vital in the fight against inflation.”

The average pay of an NHS nurse has fallen by 8 per cent in real terms since 2010. The RCN, which has more than 400,000 members, is demanding a 19 per cent pay rise – 5 per cent above retail price inflation (RPI). It is also demanding pay for the 2022-23 financial year be addressed.

However RCN general secretary, Pat Cullen, has previously said industrial action would be halted if Government ministers agree to discuss matching an offer of 7 per cent from the Welsh Government, where strikes have been suspended as a result.

Health Secretary, Steve Barclay, sat down for substantive talks on pay, terms and conditions with Ms Cullen on Wednesday, ahead of which Ms Cullen said she was “confident” a deal could be reached.

The RCN is unlikely to accept an offer of 3.5 per cent. However, the final offer could be higher.

In the past, the NHS pay review body has recommended more than the Government’s initial offers, and the Government has agreed to those terms.

Next week’s strike could still go ahead if there is a breakdown in talks.

Junior doctor strikes

Junior doctors in England are set for a 72-hour strike after the results of a British Medical Association (BMA) ballot on Monday.

Dates are yet to be confirmed, but the strike could be as early as mid-March. There is currently no sign of a deal that would end the planned action.

The union said junior doctor roles have seen pay cut by 26 per cent since 2008 in real terms.

The BMA said: “Junior doctors have experienced a cut of more than 25 per cent to their salaries since 2008-09. The lack of investment in wages by the Government has made it harder to recruit and retain junior doctors. This puts further pressure on the NHS and makes it harder to deliver care to the standards expected by professionals.

“Junior doctors represent a critical part of the NHS workforce. We are demoralised, burned out and face a future in a health service that is overstretched and underfunded.”

Teacher strikes

The National Education Union (NEU) has a series of strikes planned in England and Wales starting next week.

The union said it is “prepared to recommend a pause to strikes next week” as a sign of “goodwill” – but only if the Government makes significant movement on the current pay offer.

i understands that the union will not agree to formal talks with the Education Secretary unless her current offer of a 3.5 per cent pay rise for teachers is “substantively improved”.

The NEU said it had written to the Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, on Wednesday explaining its position, and is hoping to receive a response before its national executive committee meets on Saturday.

Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, the NEU’s joint general secretaries, said: “If the Government comes forward with a serious proposal to end the dispute ahead of Saturday and we consider it compelling enough, then we will put it to our national executive this Saturday with the recommendation to pause forthcoming strike action in order to discuss it further.

“As things stand, however, no such offer has been made and the strikes remain in place.”

It comes after Ms Keegan said on Wednesday that she was willing to move to formal talks on pay with teaching unions if the NEU agrees to call off next week’s strike action.

More on Strikes

Rail strikes

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) has announced four more days of train strikes in March and April in the long-running dispute over pay, jobs and working conditions.

Rail workers at 14 major companies will walk out on the following dates:

  • Thursday 16 March
  • Saturday 18 March
  • Thursday 30 March
  • Saturday 1 April

There is currently no sign of a deal that would end the planned action.

The RMT rejected the most recent offer from Network Rail and the train operators, saying it “did not meet the needs of members on pay, job security or working conditions”.

The union is seeking an unconditional offer from rail operators and Network Rail, but rail bosses are insisting any offer must come with changes to working conditions.

RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch, said: “Rail employers are not being given a fresh mandate by the Government to offer our members a new deal on pay, conditions and job security.

“Therefore, our members will now take sustained and targeted industrial action over the next few months.

“The Government can settle this dispute easily by unshackling the rail companies. However, its stubborn refusal to do so will now mean more strike action across the railway network and a very disruptive overtime ban.

“Ministers cannot continue to sit on their hands hoping this dispute will go away as our members are fully prepared to fight tooth and nail for a negotiated settlement in the months ahead.”

Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, said: “Just days after denying its members a say on their own future, the RMT leadership is now trying to make them lose multiple days’ wages through yet more strikes.”

The Rail Delivery Group, which represents the train companies, said: “This latest round of strikes is totally unjustified and will be an inconvenience to our customers, and cost our people more money at a time they can least afford it.”

Royal Mail strikes

Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) have voted for further strikes at Royal Mail, with dates yet to be confirmed.

It comes after the union took 18 days of strike action during the second half of 2022 over pay and unagreed changes to terms and conditions.

Royal Mail said: “We are disappointed that the CWU members who took part in the ballot have voted in favour of taking further industrial action.

“Royal Mail remain committed to resolving this dispute and want to agree a pay and change deal for our people.”

By admin