The Christmas of discontent: Rail, Royal Mail and Eurostar staff ALL announce walkouts over festive period – threatening family reunions, food and present deliveries
- RMT and TSSA members will strike during festive period causing travel disruption
- Avanti West Coast services walkouts will cause chaos December 13, 14, 16 and 17
- Comes as ‘biggest walkout’ cripples small businesses ahead of December 9 action
- Has your business been affected by strikes? Get in touch at [email protected]
Strikes could cause havoc over Christmas as rail, Eurostar and Royal Mail staff will walk out over the festive period – putting present deliveries at risk.
Members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) working for Eurostar will walk out on December 16, 18, 22 and 23 next month.
They are striking over a pay dispute in industrial action that will wreck families’ plans for a winter getaway.
The striking railway workers will be joined by the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) at Network Rail and 12 other operators, the union announced today.
The industrial action will wreck families’ plans for a winter getaway if planning to travel with Eurostar. More than 100 security staff at Eurostar will strike for four days
Three days of strike action planned for this week involving more than 2,000 bus drivers across London have been called off.
Members of Unite who are employed by Metroline were due to strike from tomorrow but last minute talks produced a new pay deal.
Union members will now be balloted on the proposed deal.
Strikes involving bus drivers employed by Abellio will go ahead in south and west London.
The Avanti West Coast services will see further disruption on December 13, 14, 16 and 17, coinciding with planned RMT walkouts.
Staff will also engage in industrial action at several stations between East London and Essex on December 17.
Other kinds of industrial action will also take place in the run up to Christmas.
The affected companies are: Cross Country, East Midlands Railway (EMR), Great Western Railway (GWR), LNER, Northern, Southeastern, TransPennine Express (TPE), Greater Anglia, Govia Thameslink (GTR), West Midlands Trains (WMT), South Western Railway (SWR) and Network Rail.
TSSA Organising Director Luke Chester said the union had decided to ‘push ahead’ with further action after three weeks of talks and blamed the negotiation breakdown on ministers.
‘Given that talks with the Rail Delivery Group have now broken down we have no option but to continue with our industrial action. We remain available for further serious talks aimed at resolving the dispute, but further strike action is likely if the current impasse in negotiations continues.
‘We have been patient but the Government’s refusal to enable employers to make an offer to settle the dispute will now cause misery for passengers.’
More than 100,000 Royal Mail workers will strike several times throughout December, following strikes today and last week.
Customers have been warned that parcels might not arrive in time as a result of the strikes and Christmas presents should be sent early to avoid disappointment.
Royal Mail’s workers are set to inflict fresh misery on those planning to post gifts and cards in the run up to December 25
University and College Union members take part in a ‘March for higher education’ in Leeds
Representatives of National Education Union (NEU), Communication Workers Union (CWU) and the public-service union Unison joined a rally by the University and College Union (UCU) amid strike action by staff at educational institutions across the UK.
It comes as businesses revealed today how strikes are leaving them facing a bleak Christmas after thousands of workers walked out again today.
Royal Mail workers, university lecturers and sixth form college staff have all taken action, claiming to have received strong support from the public as they mounted scores of picket lines across the country.
It was one of the biggest walkouts in a year dominated by industrial unrest, with more stoppages planned in the coming weeks by railway staff, NHS workers and bus drivers.
But the strikes are already having a ‘significant impact’ on businesses including My Scented Home, a dried flowers and wreath company from Dorset.
Business owner Catherine Nix said she had been struggling to send out her products and would have to refund people
IS YOUR BUSINESS AFFECTED BY THE STRIKES? CONTACT US AT: [email protected]
Owner Catherine Nix told me she hadn’t been able to ship urgent orders last Wednesday before the strikes, despite ‘driving across the country’.
‘I burst into tears. I just wanted someone to take my parcels,’ the single mother and businesswoman told MailOnline.
She said vital parcels are being held in Cheltenham as a result of the strikes, meaning she might not have products to sell at craft fairs this weekend.
‘I’m getting impacted in all ways. Absolutely horrendous: I just think it’s appalling. It’s too late to put up shipping prices. We’re going to be refunding people.
‘It’s impacting my children’s business – if I don’t make money, we’re not going to have the best Christmas! I’m working really hard not to cry.
‘I just want Christmas to be over, quite frankly.’
Christmas is Ms Nix’s busiest time of year as she runs wreathmaking classes. She said she ‘wanted Christmas to be over’ due to the stress caused by the Royal Mail strikes
Striking postal workers outside the Royal Mail Islington Delivery Office in north London
Royal Mail postal workers strike in Leeds this morning in a row over pay and conditions
Ambulance services will be ‘incredibly stretched’ during strike
Ambulance response times will be ‘incredibly stretched’ when thousands of 999 call handlers, paramedics and other staff go on strike, an NHS leader has said.
Saffron Cordery, interim chief executive of NHS Providers, said NHS trusts would do all they could to mitigate risks to patients but the health service was already experiencing a challenging time.
Unison announced on Tuesday that thousands of 999 call handlers, ambulance technicians, paramedics and their colleagues working for ambulance services in the North East, North West, London, Yorkshire and the South West are set to strike, probably before Christmas.
The union is calling for action on pay and a big rise in staff numbers, warning that unless these things happen, services will continue to decline.
Figures show that ambulance trusts in England repeatedly miss targets for reaching patients in an emergency.
The average response time in September for the most urgent incidents, defined as calls from people with life-threatening illnesses or injuries, was nine minutes and 19 seconds, against a seven-minute target.
Ambulances also took an average of 47 minutes and 59 seconds in September to respond to emergency calls such as burns, epilepsy and strokes.
This was well above the target of 18 minutes.
Ms Cordery told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme ‘there’s going to be an incredibly testing time ahead this winter’ when nurses and ambulance workers go on strike.
She added: ‘What we can say is that trust leaders up and down the country have tried and tested plans in place to mitigate the risks of these strikes, and they really understand the situation that NHS staff are in, in terms of receiving a below inflation pay award, and the real pressures and stresses that they’ve been working under.
‘But what their main focus is at the moment is making sure that they can really run with as safe a service as possible and that’s what they’ve been preparing for.
‘I think in terms of the ambulance strike, we know the challenges already of not having enough paramedics, call handlers available, because we’ve seen the challenges to ambulance handover times that we have at the moment in terms of not being able to transfer patients from ambulances into A&E departments and the challenges that brings when they can’t get back out on the road.
‘Additional challenges on top of that, I think, will make response times incredibly stretched.
‘But ambulance trust leaders will be putting in place as many measures as possible to mitigate the risks of those actions.’
She said ‘industrial action brings with it its own challenges and its own risks’ but ‘everything will be done to avoid those risks’.
She added: ‘But we know it’s an immensely pressured, it’s an immensely challenging situation at the moment, particularly with strike action coming from all parts of the NHS.’
Health workers belonging to Unison and working in Northern Ireland have already voted to take action over pay and staffing.
In Scotland, Unison is recommending its NHS members vote to accept the latest offer from the Scottish Government which will see a £2,205 increase for the lowest paid staff, and more for those on higher bands.
That vote closes on December 12. In Wales, the threshold necessary for strike action was not met anywhere, and its health committee is to meet to decide on its next steps.
The Cosy Cottage Soap Company in Malton, Yorkshire is also strugging with the Royal Mail strikes.
Owner Clara Challoner Walker says it is too expensive for her to send her soap and skincare orders via courier companies, so is reliant on Royal Mail.
Now, she is fearing the effect the walkouts will have on her firm in the run up to the crucial Christmas trading period.
‘There will be consequences and we will have to take a hit, we can’t up our prices to enable us to send things by courier,’ Ms Challoner Walker told the BBC.
‘We do feel sympathy for the [Royal Mail workers]. But I would question the union bosses as to whether striking at this time of year… is achieving what they are looking to achieve.’
Even after today’s action, members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) are also planning seven more strikes in December, including on Christmas Eve.
The union said its members will be in London on December 9 for the ‘biggest strike demonstration this country has ever seen’.
The CWU, National Education Union (NEU) and University and College Union (UCU) said today’s action was being solidly backed by their members, who were receiving messages of support from members of the public.
NEU teacher members who work in 77 sixth form colleges in England went on strike after the union said they have suffered a real-terms pay cut of an estimated 20% since 2010.
Teachers were supported on the picket line in Islington, North London, by former Labout leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Speaking outside City and Islington College, Mr Corbyn said he was there to ‘support the students because of my concerns about under-funding by the Government to post-16 education’.
He added: ‘But also to support the teachers in their perfectly reasonable demand for at least a cost-of-living pay increase.
‘They have dedicated themselves to our students, they have taught through all the difficulties of Covid and they should be rewarded with at least a cost-of-living pay increase.’
Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, added: ‘I’m here to support the NEU members who are taking industrial action against the decimation of their terms, their pay, their working conditions and the funding for sixth form colleges, which will be less in 2025 than it was in 2005 in real terms.
‘They have seen their pay decline by 24%, courses are being axed, support services in the college being axed, pastoral services – a whole range of services which enable them to teach effectively have been axed because of the terrible funding.
‘This is a government that talks about growth but deliberately underfunds a sector which is the absolute bedrock of growth particularly in terms of skills.’
The UCU followed up a 48-hour strike last week with a 24-hour stoppage among university staff and is holding a rally in London.
General secretary Jo Grady said: ‘University staff are prepared to do whatever it takes to win decent pay, secure employment and fair pensions, and vice chancellors need to understand that they cannot simply ride this out. Students and staff are united like never before.
‘At the national rally in London, the entire movement will show it is behind UCU’s campaign to save higher education. It is clear those who run our universities are becoming increasingly isolated.
‘Our union is ready to deliver more industrial action next year, but avoiding that is entirely the responsibility of employers who have this week to make an improved offer. The ball is in their court.’
UCU members at the University of Sheffield International College are on strike for three days, ending on Wednesday, in a long-running dispute over low pay.
The union says the action is the first strike to take place in a privatised higher education provider.
CWU general secretary Dave Ward said: ‘Royal Mail bosses are risking a Christmas meltdown because of their stubborn refusal to treat their employees with respect.’
Mark Dolan, London divisional representative for the CWU said outside the Royal Mail Islington Delivery Office in north London: ‘This is our 11th day of strike action and the action we are taking today is about saving this Great British institution, 500 years’ service that we give to the public, and also the destruction of our terms and conditions.
‘The company, following Covid, made over £700 million and they made that money off the backs of our membership who during Covid put their own lives on the line connecting the country, delivering test kits and we were hailed as key workers during Covid.
‘And yet, 18 months later, the company have announced they have got no money. They gave most of the profits away to shareholders and the people who sit on the board of Royal Mail.
‘We’re not prepared to stand by and watch this great public service tuned into another gig economy service where they want to get rid of the current workforce and replace them with workers on 20% less money and less terms and conditions than we currently have.’
Mark Dolan, London divisional rep for the CWU with striking postal workers outside the Royal Mail Islington Delivery Office in north London
Teachers were supported on the picket line in Islington, North London, by former Labout leader Jeremy Corbyn
Postal delivery vans are parked as Royal Mail postal workers strike in Leeds today
Royal Mail workers stand at the picket line outside the Islington Delivery Office as the Communication Workers Union (CWU) continues its strike action over pay and employment conditions
Striking CWU members attend their picket line at the Camden mail centre this morning
Members of the National Education Union (NEU) attend their picket line at City & Islington College during a national strike of sixth form teachers
Even after today’s action, members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) are also planning seven more strikes in December, including on Christmas Eve
A Royal Mail spokesman said: ‘The CWU is striking at our busiest time, holding Christmas to ransom for our customers, businesses and families across the country.
‘We apologise to our customers and strongly urge them to post early for Christmas.
‘We are proud to have the best pay and conditions in our industry. In an industry dominated by the ‘gig economy’, insecure work and low pay, our model sets us apart and we want to preserve it.
‘Despite losing more than £1 million a day, we have made a best and final pay offer worth up to 9%. Strike action has already cost our people £1,000 each and is putting more jobs at risk.
‘The money allocated to the pay deal should be going to our people, but it risks being eaten away by the costs of further strike action.
‘We once again urge the CWU to call off strike action. We remain available to meet to discuss our best and final offer.’
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Steve Barclay has reiterated that unions’ pay demands are ‘not affordable’, after Unison announced that ambulance workers across England are set to strike before Christmas after voting in favour of industrial action over pay and staffing levels.
Mr Barclay said: ‘I’m hugely grateful for the hard work and dedication of NHS staff and deeply regret some will be taking industrial action – which is in nobody’s best interests as we approach a challenging winter. Our economic circumstances mean unions’ demands are not affordable, each additional 1% pay rise for all staff on the Agenda for Change contract would cost around £700 million a year.
‘We’ve prioritised the NHS with record funding and accepted the independent pay review body recommendations in full to give over one million NHS workers a pay rise of at least £1,400 this year, with those on the lowest salaries receiving an increase of up to 9.3%.
‘This is on top of 3% last year when public sector pay was frozen and wider government support with the cost of living.
‘Our priority is keeping patients safe during any strikes and the NHS has tried and tested plans to minimise disruption and ensure emergency services continue to operate.
‘My door remains open to discuss with the unions ways we can make the NHS a better place to work.’
Jeremy Corbyn MP addresses members of the National Education Union (NEU) on their picket line at City & Islington College during a national strike of sixth form teachers
It comes as the Royal College of Nursing confirmed strikes on December 15 and December 20 after members voted in favour of industrial action.
Up to 100,000 nurses will walk out of half the NHS England locations were the legal mandate for a strike was reached and every NHS employer – except one – in Wales and Northern Ireland.
Meanwhile, members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union at Network Rail and 14 train operators are planning four 48-hour strikes on December 13-14 and 16-17, and January 3-4 and 6-7 January, and an overtime ban over Christmas which will cripple services.
The union’s General Secretary Mick Lynch held talks with the Transport Secretary last week but there has been no breakthrough in the long-running dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.
- Is your business affected by the strikes? Email:[email protected]
Strikes in December
More than 100,000 Royal Mail workers will strike across seven days during December, one of the busiest periods for the postal service.
Customers have been warned to send parcels and Christmas cards early this year as bosses worry the strikes will affect services.
The promised strike dates are:
- Thursday, December 1
- Friday, December 9
- Sunday, December 11
- Wednesday, December 14
- Thursday, December 15
- Friday, December 23
- Saturday, December 24
Postal workers recently rejected Royal Mail’s ‘best and final offer’ including enhanced pay deals of up to nine per cent over the next 18 months.
Recent strikes are thought to have cost Royal Mail up to £100million. Bosses have warned that the service is losing £1million a day and faces a bleak future if no changes are made.
For cards and presents to arrive by Christmas Day, customers are being advised to send second class items by Monday, December 19 at the latest.
For first class items, the cut-off will be Wednesday, December 21.
Sending items abroad will take even more foresight, with Royal Mail advising a deadline of December 3.
Dave Ward, general secretary of the Communication Workers’ Union, has urged the Government to intervene and claimed ‘no union would accept the jobs, losses and terms’ proposed by Royal Mail.
Other strikes planned in December include members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT), who will cripple the transport network in the run-up to Christmas.
RMT members will walk out on December 13 and 14 and later on December 16 and 17.
Civil servants within the Home Office, DEFRA, Border Force and Department for Transport are also set to walkout from mid-December after a long-running row over pay, jobs and pensions.
The Public and Commercial Services Union confirmed industrial action will go ahead for a month after their demands for a 10 per cent pay hike were rejected.
The University and Colleges Union, which represents 58 higher education providers across the UK, will hold a three-day strike between December 1 and December 3 as part of their dispute over pay, pensions and contracts.
G4S security staff tasked with delivering cash and coins to banks and supermarkets will also strike in December, prompting Christmas shortage fears.
The GMB union’s strike is set to take place from 3am on Monday, December 5.
Workers who brew and distribute Greene King’s products – including IPA, Old Speckled Hen and Abbot Ale – will walk out for five days from December 5
The Royal College of Nursing confirmed strikes of up to 100,000 nurses will take place on December 15 and December 20 across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
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