How will 'General Strike' hit YOUR Christmas?
8th December 2022

How will ‘General Strike’ hit YOUR Christmas? Walkouts by rail unions, postal workers, Border Force staff, nurses and paramedics, baggage handlers, bus drivers and civil servants will affect the festive season

  • Christmas plans for millions of Britons have been thrown into chaos by unions
  • More than 100,000 PCS members have voted to strike starting next week
  • It will coincide with two 48-hour walkouts on the railways called by the RMT
  • Tens of thousands of nurses and postal workers will also strike next week

The Christmas plans of millions of Britons have been thrown into chaos by militant unions who have announced mass walkouts over the festive season, leaving the nation facing a General Strike in all but name. 

Walkouts are planned for almost every day this month and next, with as many as 18 organised by different unions on a single day.

More than 100,000 PCS members across 124 Government and public sector offices have voted to strike, starting next week with motorway traffic officers, driving examiners and Rural Payments Agency staff. It will coincide with two 48-hour walkouts on the railways called by the RMT union, which is also set to cause travel chaos for millions.

Tens of thousands of nurses and postal workers will also strike next week, and ambulance staff will walk out on December 21 and 28.

Here, MailOnline takes a look at how your Christmas plans are set to be affected by the strikes. 

 

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union 

Nurses – December 15, 20 

Nurses are set to walk out of A&E and will refuse to provide treatment to cancer patients for two days this month.

Up to 100,000 nurses will take industrial action on Thursday, December 15, and Tuesday, December 20, in a row over pay and staffing levels.

In a formal letter to NHS bosses, the Royal College of Nursing warned it would only commit to providing ‘life-preserving care’ on strike days. Services which do not meet this criteria include hospital discharges, radiotherapy and maternity services.

The union is demanding the Government offer nurses a pay rise of 17.6 per cent, which has been dismissed as ‘unaffordable’ by the Prime Minister. The default position will be that nurses will walk out of A&Es unless trust bosses persuade them they cannot deliver a safe service without them.

Nurses are required by law to maintain a minimum staffing level to keep patients safe.

Therefore, some nurses will be exempt from the strike to provide this minimum level of service. The exact numbers remaining on the job will be negotiated locally between the RCN and each NHS Trust/Board.

Previous strikes by NHS staff have led to the cancellation of non-emergency ops and appointments. If your appointment is already scheduled for days where action takes place, it could be cancelled because it is probably not classified as urgent. Whether an individual appointment is axed or not will depend on if the date falls on a strike action day, and if nurses at the trust are walking off the job.

Another factor is how long the dispute between the Government and the union runs.

Some appointments not on strike days may also be delayed because more urgent procedures cancelled need to be prioritised.

The RCN handbook says nursing provision during the strike should be equal to the skeleton staffing for Christmas Day, although the NHS says it has well-tested procedures to limit disruption.

Emergency nurses in A&E and intensive care will keep working, as will district nurses who help elderly people in the community. Other exemptions will be negotiated at a local level.

Ambulance workers – December 21, 28

GMB, Unite and Unison confirmed their members will walk out from nine of England’s ten ambulance services, plus Wales, on December 21. The only NHS ambulance trust unaffected will be East of England. Ambulance workers represented by GMB will also strike on December 28.

The GMB members will strike at the:

  • South West Ambulance Service;
  • South East Coast Ambulance Service;
  • North West Ambulance Service;
  • South Central Ambulance Service;
  • North East Ambulance Service;
  • East Midlands Ambulance Service;
  • West Midlands Ambulance Service;
  • Welsh Ambulance Service; and
  • Yorkshire Ambulance Service.

NHS ambulance trusts affected by strike action will draw up plans detailing the number of staff they believe they need on in order to provide ‘life and limb’ cover. These will be presented to unions with details likely to be confirmed over the next week. Unions anticipate the level of cover requested by some trusts could be higher than that provided on some non-strike days, given underlying staff shortages.

Unison, Unite and GMB will agree among themselves which staff do and do not work. The Army may be brought in to drive ambulances if needed.

Patients dialling 999 may face a longer wait to get through to a call handler but calls will be diverted to other regions if necessary to limit delays.

Calls will be triaged as usual, with unions pledging to respond to ‘life and limb’ calls. Category one calls include ‘life-threatening’ injuries and illnesses, including incidents where a patient’s heart has stopped or they are not breathing. Category two calls are ’emergency’ calls, such as heart attacks and strokes.

Those with less critical illnesses may not receive an ambulance response and could be told to make their own way to hospital or to seek care elsewhere.

Patients who rely on NHS ambulance services to transport them to hospital appointments may also be forced to make alternative travel arrangements.

Concerns have been raised that elderly people ‘may well die’ if there is no cover for trips and falls during ambulance strikes.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay said there was ‘still a question’ over whether ambulance services would cover all emergency callouts during strikes. He said officials planned to meet on Thursday to discuss coverage of category two callouts – which cover heart attacks, strokes, epilepsy and burns.

But the minister told Sky News that falls tended to come under a category three emergency and ‘at the moment the trade unions are saying those things wouldn’t be covered’ but ‘the indication from the trade unions’ is that conditions such as heart attacks will be covered.

Rail workers – December 13-14, 16-17, 6pm on Christmas Eve to 6am on December 27, January 3-4, 6-7

There will be a number of 48-hour train strikes across the UK this month and further walkouts in January.

  • 13-14 December;
  • 16-17 December;
  • 24-27 December;
  • 3-4 January;
  • 6-7 January.

There will also be an overtime ban across the railways from December 18 until January 2, which will affect the number of services that can run.

The National Rail is not yet showing which rail lines will be running services, but said their timetables will be updated before the strikes take place.

The union represents workers at 14 train operating companies, so their services are likely to be affected:

Great Western Railway, Avanti West Coast, East Midlands Railway, LNER, Greater Anglia, Cross Country Trains, South Western, West Midlands Railway, Northern, GTR (including Thameslink, Southern, Great Northern and Gatwick Express), Southeastern, c2c.

Train drivers’ union Aslef said it has secured a fresh six-month mandate for strike action. It means it can coordinate with the RMT, which has also called strikes from December 24 to 27 and January 3-4 and 6-7, to bring further chaos to the railways.

Aslef boss Mick Whelan defended threatening more walkouts despite the average train drivers’ salary being £60,000.

He said: ‘Strikes are always a last resort. But the intransigent attitude of the train companies – with the Government acting with malice in the shadows – has forced our hand.’

Road maintenance – December 16-17, 22-25, 30-31, January 3-4, 6-7

PCS members working on England’s highways have announced 12 days’ strike action over Christmas and the New Year.

The National Highways employees, who plan, design, build, operate and maintain the country’s roads, will take part in a series of staggered strikes from 16 December to 7 January.

The action, which risks bringing the road network to a standstill, will coincide with planned strikes by RMT members on the railways.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: ‘We know our members’ action could inconvenience travellers who plan to visit their relatives over the festive period, but our members have been placed in this situation by a government that won’t listen to its own workforce.

‘With the serious cost-of-living crisis they deserve to be paid properly for the important work they do, keeping our roads running safe and free. The government is in the driving seat here – it’s in a position to stop these strikes by putting money on the table.’

Bus workers – December 9-10, 15-17, 23-24

Almost 1,000 bus drivers employed by Abellio will strike on December 9, 10, 16 and 17.

The action will primarily affect buses in south and west London. Striking workers will be from depots in Battersea, Beddington, Hayes, Southall, Twickenham and Walworth. 

Some of the bus strikes have been called off. 

Unite said its members, employed by Metroline, have accepted an 11% pay increase, which the union said was a ‘significant improvement’ on the 4% drivers were originally offered.

As a result of the workers accepting the improved offer, the planned strike action for later this month has been called off.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘This is a significant victory for our members at Metroline who by standing together and being prepared to take industrial action, have secured a greatly improved pay offer.

‘This pay deal exemplifies how Unite’s commitment to always prioritise the jobs, pay and conditions of its members is delivering noteworthy financial dividends.’

Unite regional officer Laura Johnson said: ‘From the outset, Unite members were aware that Metroline could afford a better pay rise than it was offering and once our members announced strike action, fresh negotiations were held and an improved offer was made.’

A thousand Border Force passport staff at five major airports today became the latest public sector workers to walk out and ruin the festive plans of millions of Britons. Pictured, Border Force at Gatwick Airport

Announcing the action, PCS chief Mark Serwotka said the union could escalate industrial action in the new year unless the deadlock is broken and also raised the prospect of co-ordinated action with other unions involved in disputes

Border Force staff – December 23-26, 28-31 

Around 1,000 Border Force workers at major airports will go on strike from December 23 to 26 and 28 to 31, the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union said.

According to figures compiled by flight data experts Cirium, around 2million passengers on 10,000 flights are expected to arrive at the airports over Border Force strike period.

RAF personnel have started training at Heathrow Airport to step in for striking guards.

The Border Force is responsible, on behalf of the Home Office, for passport control checks at all UK airports. But RAF personnel who are accustomed to checking travel documentation and questioning passengers will step in.

Training began this week, with troops seen shadowing immigration officials at Heathrow’s passenger terminals.

Military personnel are also expected to stand in for striking ambulance drivers and postal workers.

It is part of contingency plans which have been drafted by a ‘strikes unit’ within the Cabinet Office.

Heathrow Airport baggage handlers – December 16 from 4am for 72 hours 

Passengers at Heathrow Airport will face festive chaos after baggage handlers voted to strike on the second last Friday before Christmas. 

Ground handlers employed by a private contractor at the London airport will strike in a 72-hour row over pay, as Britain prepares itself for a ‘winter of discontent’. 

There will be around 350 members of Unite who work for Menzies that will walk out from 4am on Friday December 16.

Passengers have been warned that more travel chaos looms as the union confirmed that their action will lead to some flight disruption. It will come as schools break up for Christmas and families look to escape the capital for the festive period.

General secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘Menzies needs to have a long, hard look at itself.

‘This is a highly lucrative company, which has made a fair pay offer to one group of its workers but isn’t prepared to make a similar offer to its ground handlers.

‘Unite is entirely dedicated to defending its members’ jobs, pay and conditions.

‘Our members at Menzies will continue to receive the union’s complete support.’

Unite said the ground handlers have been offered a flat rate increase – which it branded a real-terms pay cut.

Royal Mail postal – December 9, 11, 14-15, 23-24

Royal Mail workers will strike on seven days in December, including on Christmas Eve, in a long running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

The workers will now walk out on December 23 and 24, in addition to December 1, 9, 11, 14 and 15, the Communication Workers Union said in a statement, exacerbating concerns that Christmas post could be severely delayed. 

Nearly 99 per cent of CWU members voted in favour of strike action after rejecting a 2 per cent pay deal. 

‘The CWU want a negotiated settlement with Royal Mail Group and will continue to engage the company to that end,’ a spokesperson said. 

‘But those in charge of Royal Mail need to wake up and realise we won’t allow them to destroy the livelihoods of postal workers.’  

The postal service is looking to switch from a six-days-a-week letter delivery service to five, covering Monday to Friday only, under its Universal Service agreement.

The group will, however, look to maintain a seven-day parcel delivery service.

TIMELINE OF ESCALATING INDUSTRIAL ACTION

Here are some of the strikes and ballots planned:

December 7

Members of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association and the NASUWT went on strike in 17 local authority areas.

December 8

The teachers’ strike in Scotland will continue in the remaining 15 local authorities.

December 9

Communication Workers Union (CWU) members at Royal Mail who collect, sort and deliver parcels and letters will strike and hold a huge rally in Westminster.

Bus drivers at Abellio in London will stage a 48-hour walkout.

December 11

Royal Mail workers will stage a national strike again.

December 13

Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union members on Network Rail and 14 train operators to begin a 48-hour strike.

Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) members at Avanti West Coast will also begin 48-hour strike.

Civil servants in the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union to start a month-long strike, with workers in different agencies and departments walking out on different days.

The first day includes DVSA driving examiners, whose strike will start in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and staff in the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) customer service centre.

December 14

RMT and TSSA train strikes to continue, affecting services across the UK.

Royal Mail workers will walk out on another national strike.

The DVSA strike continues for staff in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

RPA staff continue their walkout.

December 15

Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) will go on strike.

Bus workers with Abellio in London will stage another walkout.

Royal Mail workers to strike again.

The DVSA strike continues for staff in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

RPA staff continue their walkout.

December 16

RMT rail workers to stage another 48-hour national strike.

The union will also see members working as security guards on Eurostar staging a 24-hour strike.

TSSA members who work for Avanti West Coast to stage another 48-hour walkout.

Ground handlers employed by private contractor Menzies at Heathrow Airport, who are members of Unite, will walk out from 4am for 72 hours.

Bus workers for Abellio in London to go on strike for 48 hours.

The DVSA strike continues for staff in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

PCS road strikes to begin with National Highways employees walking out in the North West, North East and Yorkshire.

RPA staff continue their walkout.

December 17

TSSA members who work for c2c to walk out.

Rail workers with the same union at Avanti West Coast will continue their strike.

The DVSA strike continues for staff in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

National Highways workers continue their walkout in the North West, North East and Yorkshire.

The RMT rail workers’ walkout continues.

Unite ground handlers at Heathrow continue their strike.

December 18

RMT members working as security guards on Eurostar to stage another walkout.

Unite ground handlers at Heathrow continue their strike.

The DVSA strike continues for staff in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

December 19

Staff working at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) start strike action. More than 200 PCS members in three DWP offices in Liverpool and one in Doncaster will walk out on dates from December 19 to 31 – although it is unclear which dates.

Unite members working for Highlands and Islands Airports will strike, affecting 11 small hubs in Scotland.

DVSA driving examiners to strike in the North West, Yorkshire and Humber and North Wales.

RPA staff resume their walkout.

December 20

RCN members will stage another nurses’ strike.

The DVSA strike continues in the North West, Yorkshire and Humber and North Wales.

RPA staff continue their walkout.

December 21

Ambulance workers and other NHS staff will stage a strike co-ordinated by the GMB, Unison and Unite.

The DVSA strike continues in the North West, Yorkshire and Humber and North Wales.

RPA staff continue their walkout.

December 22

Railway cleaners across the country with the RMT union to launch a strike.

National Highways workers begin a walkout in London and the South East.

Unite members working for Highlands and Islands Airports will stage another strike.

RMT Eurostar security staff to stage another walkout.

The DVSA strike continues in the North West, Yorkshire and Humber and North Wales.

RPA staff continue their walkout.

December 23

Royal Mail workers will walk out in another day of national strike action.

The RMT railway cleaners’ national strike continues.

RMT Eurostar security staff to stage another walkout.

The National Highways workers’ strike continues in London and the South East.

The DVSA strike continues in the North West, Yorkshire and Humber and North Wales.

PCS members in the Border Force start a wave of strikes, including December 24, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30 and 31.

December 24

RMT railway workers will stage another strike from 6pm on Christmas Eve.

Royal Mail workers to continue national strike action.

The DVSA strike continues in the North West, Yorkshire and Humber and North Wales.

December 25

The RMT rail strike will continue, although no train services run on Christmas Day.

December 26

The RMT rail strike will continue, meaning limited Boxing Day services are likely to be cancelled.

December 27

The RMT rail strike continues until 6am.

December 28

NHS staff in the GMB union will stage another strike.

The DVSA driving examiners’ strikes will start in the West Midlands, the Eastern region and the East Midlands

December 29

The DVSA strike continues in the West Midlands, Eastern region and East Midlands.

December 30

Road strikes by National Highways’ employees will begin in the West Midlands and South West.

The DVSA strike continues in the West Midlands, Eastern region and East Midlands.

December 31

RMT railway cleaners will stage another strike.

Road strikes by National Highways employees will begin in the West Midlands and South West.

January 1

National Highways workers to stage two-day action in all areas of the country.

The DVSA strike continues in the West Midlands, Eastern region and East Midlands.

January 3

RPA staff will resume their walkout.

January 4

The DVSA driving examiners’ strike starts in London, the South East, South Wales and the South West.

The RMT rail workers’ strike continues.

UK-wide National Highways strike continues.

RPA staff will continue their walkout.

January 5

The DVSA strike continues in London, South East, South Wales and South West.

RPA staff continue their walkout.

January 6

RMT rail workers will stage another 48-hour strike.

National Highways workers to stage a two-day action in the East Midlands and eastern England.

The DVSA strike continues in London, South East, South Wales and South West.

RPA staff to continue their walkout.

January 7

The RMT rail workers’ walkout continues.

National Highways workers will continue their strike in the East Midlands and eastern England.

The DVSA strike continues in London, South East, South Wales and South West.

January 8

The DVSA strike continues in London, South East, South Wales and South West.

January 9

The DVSA strike continues in London, South East, South Wales and South West.

RPA staff continue their walkout.

January 10

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) teachers’ union will stage a national strike in primary schools, special schools and early years sites.

The DVSA strike continues in London, South East, South Wales and South West.

RPA staff continue their walkout.

January 11

EIS will stage another national strike, in secondary schools and secondary special schools.

RPA staff will continue their walkout.

January 12

RPA staff continue their walkout.

January 13

RPA staff continue their walkout.

January 16

EIS to stage a national strike for 16 consecutive days until February 2, which will see members in two local authorities strike each day.

Source: Read Full Article