The UK is braced for widespread disruption today (Wednesday, February 1) as half a million workers across different sectors prepare to walk out in the largest scale strike day in over a decade. Train drivers, teachers, university lecturers, civil servants and security guards from several trade unions are all planning industrial action as a new month begins.
Picket lines will pop up outside train stations, schools, Government departments and universities, and on the same day, protests are set to be held against the Government’s controversial plans for a new law on “minimum service levels” during all strikes.
The new legislation has been branded the “anti-strike bill” by unions, who say it could lead to workers being sacked, despite the fact they legally vote to strike. Paul Nowak, head of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) said today’s mass strikes “should send a clear message to the Government that it cannot continue to ignore”.
Joint general secretaries of the NEU, Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, said: “This is not about a pay rise but correcting historic real-terms pay cuts. Teachers have lost 23% in real-terms since 2010, and support staff 27% over the same period.
“The average five per cent pay rise for teachers this year is some seven per cent behind inflation. In the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, that is an unsustainable situation. Teachers are leaving in droves, a third gone within five years of qualifying.
“This is a scandalous waste of talent and taxpayers’ money, yet the Government seems unbothered about the conditions they are allowing schools and colleges to slide into."
Full list of strikes this week
- Teachers in England and Wales who are members of the National Education Union (NEU) will begin the first of seven days of strikes on Wednesday, February 1.
- ASLEF union train drivers and RMT union train drivers at 14 rail operators will strike on Wednesday, February 1 and Friday, February 3.
- University lecturers and security guards will strike on Wednesday, February 1.
- 100,000 civil servants belonging to the PCS union will walk out on Wednesday, February 1 - affecting Government departments, driving test centres, museums, ports and airports. Director-general of Border Force, Paul Douglas, said there would be queues at airports on Wednesday due to strike action by workers manning passport booths.