LONDON – Britain will be affected by strikes every day this month in the run-up to Christmas, with trade union leaders increasing threats to coordinate industrial action and cause maximum disruption in their quest for higher wages.
Workers from the country’s rail network, buses, postal service, health sector and schools are among those staging walkouts amid high inflation and government plans to rein in public spending.
The day with the least expected disruption is Dec 4, this Sunday, with only a walkout on some bus services expected to spill into the morning. Otherwise, full strikes are currently scheduled on every date until Dec 24.
Mr Andy Prendergast, national secretary of the GMB labour group, hinted Thursday that union leaders could coordinate industrial action across the National Health Service to ensure “maximum impact.”
“We will be talking to the other unions,” he told Sky News. “We will be making sure that emergencies are covered, but ultimately, the government needs to listen.”
GMB said on Wednesday that more than 10,000 ambulance workers had voted to strike across much of England and Wales. Another labour group, Unison, has said its ambulance workers are likely to strike before Christmas. Nurses are also striking, while more widespread industrial action could still be announced across the NHS.
“We are concerned about the impact that strikes by multiple unions will have on the people of this country as we enter into this Christmas period,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak‘s spokesman Max Blain, told reporters on Thursday. “We want these unions to think about how this will affect people.”
The UK is braced for a month of transport chaos, with several unions scheduling walkouts designed to bring the train system to a halt. Christmas deliveries are at risk from widespread protests by Royal Mail staff.
A general strike – where workers across a number of industries stop work simultaneously – is “not on the agenda at the moment”, Mr Prendergast said. But “we need to see something happen very fast,” he added. BLOOMBERG