Strikes update: healthcare workers, transport workers and baggage handlers’ strike dates

Strikes update: healthcare workers, transport workers and baggage handlers’ strike dates

Picture above: an ambulance

Healthcare workers begin strikes ahead of Christmas

Key industries are planning strikes over the Christmas period, with strike dates lasting through December and January. Services such as post, rail, ambulance, hospitals, airports, subways and buses are affected.

As the cost of living continues to fall with an inflation rate of 11.1%, most workers want their wage packages to rise in line with inflation, and some also have specific grievances about pensions and working conditions.

See below for expected strikes in London and Chiswick.

Around 10,000 emergency services workers, including paramedics, control room workers and auxiliaries, will go on strike across most of England and Wales on December 21-28

The strike by the three main ambulance unions – Unison, GMB and Unite – only affects non-life threatening calls. The government said the military would be on standby to help.

All unions have called for wage increases above inflation. While NHS workers saw an average rise of 4.75% with an increase of at least £1,400, many workers suffer real wage cuts when inflation hits.

While the impact of the first ambulance strike will be patchy, with Unison only having a strike mandate for half of England’s 10 regional services for the December 21 strike, the only service to remain completely unaffected is the east of England.

Picture above: Doctors and nurses

Care workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will go on strike on December 15 and December 20, with action expected to last 12 hours on both days.

The Royal College of Nurses wants a 5% rise above the Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation measure – currently 14%. The Government says this year’s pay premium, an average increase of 4.75%, is in line with the recommendation of the independent NHS Pay Review Body.

The RCN had hoped the government would start negotiations before Christmas to avoid a disruption in health services, but it says the government has rejected its proposals. The unprecedented industrial action is likely to seriously disrupt supplies.

The Secretary General of the Royal College of Nursing Pat Cullen said:

“Nursing staff are fed up with being taken for granted, fed up with low pay and insecure staffing, fed up with not giving our patients the care they deserve.”

Picture above: an SWR train at Chiswick Station

Rail workers first called for strike days in June, and more strikes are now planned for December and January.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) wants a salary offer that reflects the rising cost of living – and a guarantee that no forced labor jobs will be lost. The railway workers’ union RMT has announced strikes for:

  • Tuesday and Wednesday, 13.-14. December
  • Friday and Saturday, 16.-17. December
  • 6pm Saturday 24th to Tuesday 27th December
  • Tuesday and Wednesday, 3rd-4th January
  • Friday and Saturday, 6.-7. January

The following companies are affected: Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Great Western Railway, Greater Anglia, London North Eastern Railway, London Overground, Northern Trains, Southeastern, Transpennine Express and West Midlands Trains.

Rail industry bosses say changes must be agreed to deliver wage increases and “modernize” the railroad, disputed by union bosses who point to excessive profits being made by private rail operators.

Picture above: a bus from Abellio London

Bus drivers (strike cancelled)

Three-day strike action by more than 2,000 bus drivers that would have affected dozens of services in south and west London was canceled at the last minute.

Drivers’ unions have confirmed the strikes will not continue after a last-ditch bid to improve wages.

Metroline-employed members of Unite were due to begin strikes on Thursday (December 8) last week but have indefinitely suspended all action while they vote on a new pay offer.

Unite Regional Officer Laura Johnson said:

‘Following last minute talks at Acas, tomorrow’s planned strikes have been suspended to allow our members to vote on the new offer.’

Picture above: a baggage handler

Baggage handlers at Heathrow

Menzies Aviation ground handlers at Heathrow Airport will go on strike for 72 hours from December 16. At the heart of the dispute is a salary offer for freight workers, but it has not been extended to baggage handlers.

Ten airlines likely to be affected are: Air Canada, American Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss Air, Air Portugal, Austrian Airlines, Qantas, Egypt Air, Aer Lingus and Finnair.

Unione union says freight workers have been offered a retrospective pay increase of 9.5% and a further 1% from January 2023, but baggage handlers have only been offered a flat-rate increase and are facing an actual pay cut.

A Heathrow spokesman said:

“[We] encouraged airport partners who would be impacted to continue their contingency planning and we will support them to minimize the impact on passengers should the strike take place.”

Pictured above: Royal Mail staff go on strike in Chiswick in September

Postal workers are planning strikes on December 14, 15, 23 and 24 after the Communication Workers’ Union extended its strike program in response to Royal Mail’s recent “unacceptable” salary offer.

Royal Mail has offered wages said to be worth up to 9% over 18 months – but with inflation at 11.1%, the Communication Workers’ Union wants more.

Deliveries are affected during strikes, with the last days for Christmas mail now being 12 December for second class mail and 16 December for first class mail.

The CWU also opposes proposed changes to working conditions, including mandatory Sunday work. They added the Royal Mail needed to “wake up” and realize the union would not allow the company to “destroy postal workers’ livelihoods”.

A spokesman for Royal Mail said:

“We prefer an agreement with the CWU, but the change we need is not optional. They should focus on resolving this dispute for their members and the long-term health of the company, rather than damaging strike action.”

Read more stories in the Chiswick Calendar

See also: Local pharmacies struggle to get antibiotics for Strep A

See also: Cheese Market donates £5,000 to The Upper Room

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