Mass strikes on budget day when teachers, trainee doctors and subway drivers go on strike


Hundreds of thousands of workers will stage a strike on Budget Day in what threatens to be the largest strike since the current spate of industrial action began last year.

Members of multiple unions will take action, setting up hundreds of pickets across the country as they continue to fret over issues such as wages, jobs, pensions and working conditions.

Wednesday’s strikers include teachers, university lecturers, civil servants, trainee doctors, London Tube drivers and BBC journalists.

Despite talks between unions and the Westminster government, public sector strikes remain deadlocked.

Some of the strikes, such as those by teachers, will only take place in England as progress has been made in Wales and Scotland.

Ministers appear uninterested in giving their own staff a fair pay rise to help them through the cost of living crisis and beyond

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, warned that the action was just the start of strikes that could last until the end of the year.

He said: “On Budget Day we ask Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to give our hard-working members a fair raise.

“We got a 2% pay rise when food inflation was 16% last week. 40,000 civil servants use food banks and 45,000 claim sick leave because they are so poor.

“The government can stop these strikes today by putting money on the table for our members.

“If they don’t, our action will escalate. Where the Westminster Government is directly involved in disputes, very little progress has been made.

“Shamefully, ministers appear uninterested in giving their own staff a fair raise to help them through the cost of living crisis and beyond.”

Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, joint general secretaries of the National Education Union, said: “We don’t want to go on strike – we want to be in the classroom, teaching and supporting children and young people.

“It remains unfortunate that our members are having to go on strike, but we know parents and the public understand the seriousness of the situation regarding school funding and teacher recruitment and retention.

“The NEU, as we have always said, is ready to start talks at any moment and as soon as a reasonable offer is made by the government through negotiations, we will suspend strike action while the offer is made to members.

“That is exactly what happened in Wales last week. Gillian Keegan (Minister for Education) needs to take a leaf out of the Welsh Government’s book, stop playing politics and engage in serious negotiations.”

Passengers have been urged to check before boarding the London Underground amid disruption from a strike by members of Aslef and the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT).

In a letter to the Mayor of London, RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: “As you know, London Underground managers are at this very moment introducing new rosters for our underground stations based on the shedding of 600 station staff jobs based.

“In January I wrote to you expressing my serious concern about the security implications of these cuts. Being so understaffed now, managers appear to be abusing waivers to override agreed minimum safe mannings at subway stations.

“This means that train stations are now opening with understaffed or, in some cases, without staff. I have asked for a moratorium on these job cuts pending an investigation, but managers are continuing to use the new rosters.”

Aslef’s Finn Brennan said the government’s failure to properly fund public transport in the capital was to blame.

He warned that further strikes are “inevitable” unless the dispute is resolved.

Glynn Barton, Transport for London’s chief operating officer, said: “Customers should inquire before traveling and we are advising them to expect very limited or no service on the Tube on Wednesday.

“Most TfL services will operate as usual but can be changed at the last minute, including through stopping at some stations shared with the London Underground.

“Disruptions to the subway network can be expected until Thursday morning.”

Members of the National Union of Journalists who work at BBC Local across England will stage a 24-hour straight strike over program cuts.

Meanwhile, junior doctors from the British Medical Association will continue on a three-day hiatus they initiated on Monday over pay.

NHS Providers chief executive Sir Julian Hartley said: “So far so difficult for the NHS – but the health service is still there for patients.

“Unlike previous strikes, it is striking that the demand for care has not decreased.

“Senior doctors are stepping into the breach, but things are not going as usual. For hospital patients, this means that admission takes longer and the discharge process is also slower.

“Delays in handing over ambulances have also increased.

“We are seeing increasing coverage from senior doctors in mental health and community services but this is not sustainable and trust leaders are concerned they could burn goodwill.

“The amount of planning involved in preparing for the strike and maintaining services has been enormous and freed managers from time for other tasks. We can’t go on like this. The aftermath of a three-day strike will be felt for a long time.

“We need a quick agreement between the government and doctors’ unions.”

Mike Clancy, General Secretary of Prospect, said: “Our public sector members have seen their incomes drop by up to 26% over the past 13 years and their work has been taken for granted – they’ve had enough.

“Poor pay and declining morale pose an existential threat to the functioning of the public service and to our ability to regulate and implement government priorities.

“Bills are skyrocketing and wages are falling further behind the private sector, leaving our members with no choice but to take industrial action.

“We will continue our campaign until the Government makes a meaningful offer. If that doesn’t happen soon, we may not have a public service to protect.”

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said in an open letter to parents: “This industrial action will disrupt children’s education and your life even more – be it at work, arranging childcare or changing other plans.

“I am very disappointed that many young people will once again miss out on quality time studying with their teachers and friends, especially after their education has been significantly disrupted during the pandemic.

“To make matters worse, this strike action is completely unnecessary. As I told the NEW three weeks ago, I want to sit down and have serious talks about teachers’ salaries and other issues to settle disputes.

“My only stipulation was that the strikes be suspended so that these discussions could take place in good faith and without interruption.

“This was the same offer and condition made to unions representing nurses, ambulances and physiotherapists. These unions accepted the offer, suspended their strikes and are now negotiating privately on behalf of their members.

“The NEU instead seems to focus on strikes and all the unnecessary disruption that brings.

“This morning I wrote to the unions again to invite them to these talks on Wednesday and Thursday this week – all they have to do is call off strikes, which are unnecessary and benefit no one.” Mass strikes on budget day when teachers, trainee doctors and subway drivers go on strike

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