Britain is bracing for a winter of discontent as union workers across the country, including within the healthcare system, are threatening to walk out over ongoing pay disputes.
Paramedics, nurses and midwives are among the latest to vote on whether they will strike this winter as widespread discontent continues to hit many sectors of the economy.
Today, 15,000 ambulance workers across 11 NHS trusts in England and Wales will vote on whether to strike over a below-inflation pay rise.
GMB Union members argue that the Government’s imposed four per cent pay rise was ‘another massive real terms pay cut’.
A rally at Parliament Square by the Trades Union Congress earlier this year. Britain is facing a winter of discontent as healthcare workers, railway workers and port workers are among those threatening strike action
The threat of industrial action within the NHS is just the latest in a wave of strikes that has brought the country to its knees throughout the summer and autumn months.
Today, 560 dock workers at one of the UK’s biggest ports, the Port of Liverpool, began another two-week strike after talks surrounding an ongoing pay dispute collapsed.
Last month, the port staff took action arguing that because inflation having hit 12.3 per cent, a pay rise of only 8.3 per cent would result in a reduction of living standards.
Peel Ports, who run the Liverpool dock, insisted that the new offer was ‘the highest percentage increase of any port in the UK’ – but Unite union dismissed the proposal calling it a ‘farce’.
Union bosses said the latest round of talks to resolve the ongoing dispute ended in ‘chaos’, adding their members knew Peel Ports could ‘afford a proper increase’.
Today, 560 dock workers at the Port of Liverpool began another two-week strike after talks surrounding an ongoing pay dispute collapsed
General secretary of Unite Sharon Graham said: ‘The talks ended in farce, with the deal agreed between Unite and senior management being pulled by the board.
‘Strike action by our members will go ahead.’
David Huck, chief operating officer of Peel Ports, said: ‘It’s hugely disappointing that Unite has staged yet another outdated show-of-hands mass meeting which has, very predictably, failed to support our improved 11 per cent pay offer.
‘This is the highest percentage increase of any port group in the UK by far and would see average annual pay rise to £43,275.’
The walkout comes amid soaring inflation rates and an on-going cost-of-living crisis, plunging many across the country into fuel poverty.
Nurses and midwives are among the unions threatening to walk out in the coming months as a result of the Government’s below-inflation pay rise for healthcare workers.
On Thursday, a Unison strike ballot of 400,000 NHS workers in England, Scotland and Wales will open and a ballot of Royal College of Midwives members in Scotland will come to a close.
Around 15,000 ambulance workers, across 11 NHS Trusts in England and Wales, who are members of GMB Union will vote on whether to go ahead with strike action today
Next week, on November 2, the Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) ballot of 300,000 members will close.
If the Midwives union votes to strike, industrial action could begin as early as November 11.
Speaking ahead of the ballot opening today, Rachel Harrison, GMB acting national secretary, said: ‘Ambulance workers don’t do this lightly and this would be the biggest ambulance strike for 30 years.
‘But more than 10 years of pay cuts, plus the cost-of-living crisis, means workers can’t make ends meet.
‘They are desperate. This is much more about patient safety at least as much about pay.’
The ballot of ambulance workers includes East of England, East Midlands, London, North East, North West, South Central, South East Coast, South West, Welsh, West Midlands and Yorkshire.
More train strikes by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) are also planned for the first week of November
Ms Harrison added: ‘This is much more about patient safety at least as much about pay.
‘Delays up to 26 hours and 135,000 vacancies across the NHS mean a third of GMB ambulance workers think a delay they’ve been involved with has led to a death.
‘Ambulance workers have been telling the Government for years things are unsafe. No one is listening. What else can they do?’
The RCN described the Government’s 4 per cent pay offer as a ‘national disgrace’ earlier this year and has asked for a fully funded pay rise of 5 per cent above inflation.
Last week one of the biggest strikes of the year began when Royal Mail, BT and Openreach employees across the country staged a mass walk-out over pay and working conditions.
More than 40,000 members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) have already taken part in strike action over recent weeks, with 18 scheduled walk outs planned to take place between October and December.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) are also staging further action over a long-running dispute over pay and working conditions.
Those hoping to travel on 3, 5 and 7 November will face disruption as 14 train operating companies are set to strike once again.
This includes RMT members working on Network Rail, London Underground and London Overground.
It is expected that railway operators will run around 20 per cent of their services, some reducing services while others plan to close routes.
Speaking ahead of potential strike action within the NHS, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘We value the hard work of NHS staff and are working hard to support them – including by giving over one million NHS workers a pay rise of at least £1,400 this year.
‘Industrial action is a matter for unions, and we urge them to carefully consider the potential impacts on patients.’