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NHS strikes: Hospital boss says preparing for winter amid walkouts ‘like going into battle with one hand behind your back’ | UK News

The chief executive of a busy NHS Hospital Trust has described preparing for winter amid ongoing industrial action by consultants and junior doctors as “going into a really tough battle with one hand tied behind your back”.

Matthew Trainer, CEO of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, was speaking exclusively to Sky News on the first day of an unprecedented joint action by consultants and their junior doctor colleagues.

He said: “I think we’ve cancelled more than 10,000 outpatient appointments here. We’ve cancelled more than a thousand non-urgent surgeries and a small number of urgent surgeries.

“What we’re increasingly seeing is actually we’re not cancelling things, because we’re not even booking stuff in any more for the strike days.

“It feels like we’re walking into a really tough battle with one hand tied behind our back.”

Mr Trainer, who has 12 hospitals under his care including the Queen’s Hospital in Essex and the King George Hospital in Ilford, said his patients and his staff were suffering because of the industrial action by NHS health workers. which is now in its 10th month.

He said: “It’s about the patients who are not getting access to the care that they need. And the second thing, it’s about the staff that we’re asking, at times, to work in some really tough circumstances.

“I regularly meet our emergency department teams because they tend to bear the brunt of it. Emergency departments are the last unrationed part of health care, they’re the only place you can walk into and guarantee someone will see you. And as a result, we’re seeing real pressures piled on to them.”

Some 900,000 NHS appointments have been cancelled across England since December last year.

Matthew Trainer
Matthew Trainer has 12 hospitals under his care

Hospitals now routinely do not book appointments for strike days, with the dates announced at least six weeks in advance. That means the true figure of disruption to elective care is likely to be much higher.

Mr Trainer added: “I think one thing that worries me is actually that we’re finding the strikes less difficult to cope with because we’re becoming so practised at them.

“The NHS is good at crisis management and responding to incidents. Actually, we now know how to stand up a strike rota. We know to take down all the planned care activity. This shouldn’t be something we’re used to doing.

“You know, this should remain a real outlier for us, to have cancelled 10,000 outpatient appointments since April is not normal. And we should not become accustomed to this as a way of doing business in healthcare.”

But this is likely to be the case for months to come, deep into another crippling winter.

Read more from Sky News:
NHS England waiting list hits record high
Health secretary attacks ‘increasing militancy’ of strikes
Thousands of Tube workers to go on strike


The junior doctors and consultants have long mandates for strike action and show no sign of calling them off.

Their union, the BMA, will feel vindicated in its action after learning that the public is more than twice as likely to blame the government for the ongoing strikes than the doctors’ trade unions, by 45% compared to 21%, according to a YouGov poll commissioned by Sky News.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made bringing down waiting lists one of his key pledges.

But that is not achievable unless there is a resolution to what is becoming an increasingly bitter and protracted dispute. It also means trusts are not able to prepare for the fast-approaching winter.

Mr Trainer continued: “We had a really tough winter, last year. January was as bad as I’ve ever seen it in terms of the pressures. Primary care is also seeing huge increases in demand.

“They’re seeing more people than ever before, but they can’t keep up with the demand, and mental health services are also dealing with enormous backlogs for care and emergency care.

“So we’re trying to get ourselves ready for that. But what we know at the minute is that unless there’s some kind of resolution to this, we’re going to have to deal with that regular disruption of strike action.

“And I think we’re getting to a position now where it’s making it very hard to plan for what’s going to be the toughest period of the year in the NHS.

“We’ve got clinical staff trying to deliver good quality health care in some really challenging environments at the minute. And this is just adding to the strain they’re feeling and adding to the pressures on the NHS.”

Train strikes: Commuters warned to expect disruption as 20,000 rail workers stage walkout in ongoing pay row | UK News

More than 20,000 rail workers will strike on Thursday in a long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions – with passengers warned they may experience severe disruption to services.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) will walk out on 20, 22 and 29 July while drivers in Aslef are banned from working overtime this week.

RMT members involved in the strikes include station workers, train managers and catering staff with 14 train companies affected.

Read more: A full list of July dates and services affected by industrial action

The industrial action will see variations in services across the country with trains due to start later and finish much earlier than usual.

Around half of train services will run in some areas, while others will have no services at all.

Services the evening before and morning after strike days may also be affected.

Passengers have been advised to check their journeys in advance.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the strikes would show the country “just how important railway staff are to the running of the rail industry”.

“My team of negotiators and I are available 24/7 for talks with the train operating companies and Government,” he said.

Mr Lynch said neither party had “made any attempt whatsoever to arrange any meetings or put forward a decent offer that can help us reach a negotiated solution”.

“The Government continues to shackle the companies and will not allow them to put forward a package that can settle this dispute,” he added.

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Starmer: Strikes ‘are government’s mess’

Meanwhile, Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said the union wants to resolve the dispute.

“Train drivers don’t want to be inconveniencing the public,” he said.

“We have given the Government and rail operators plenty of opportunities to come to the table but it remains clear that they do not want a resolution.

“Our members, the drivers who keep the railway running day in, day out, will not accept the Government’s attempts to force our industry into decline.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, joins union members on the picket line outside Newcastle station. Rail passengers will suffer fresh travel disruption in the next few days because of more strikes in long-running disputes over pay, jobs and conditions. Picture date: Wednesday May 31, 2023.
Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, joins union members on the picket line outside Newcastle station in May

A Rail Delivery Group spokesperson said: “The upcoming rail strikes called by the RMT union and the overtime ban by Aslef will undoubtedly cause some disruption, affecting not only the daily commute of our passengers but also disrupting the plans of families during the summer holidays.

Members of the drivers' union Aslef on the picket line at Euston station, London, during their long-running dispute over pay. Picture date: Friday May 12, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story INDUSTRY Strikes. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Members of the drivers’ union Aslef on the picket line at Euston station, London in May

“This will lead to disappointment, frustration, and financial strain for tens of thousands of people. We apologise for the inconvenience caused and understand the impact on individuals and businesses.

“While we are doing all we can to keep trains running, unfortunately there will be reduced services between 17 July and 29 July so our advice is to check before you travel.

“Passengers with advance tickets can be refunded fee-free if the train that the ticket is booked for is cancelled, delayed or rescheduled.”

Read more:
Train strikes – Full list of July dates, Tube and rail services affected by industrial action
Nearly every railway ticket office in England could close under plans due to be unveiled
RMT’s Mick Lynch insists rail strikes ‘have been a success’

London Underground passengers were also warned to expect disruption next week because of industrial action by the RMT and Aslef in a separate dispute.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “The Government has met the rail unions, listened to them and facilitated improved offers on pay and reform. The union leaders should put these fair and reasonable offers to their members so this dispute can be resolved.”

Air traffic control strikes could put up to a third of summer flights in Europe at risk | UK News

Hundreds of thousands of flights across Europe this summer are in jeopardy after air traffic controllers vowed to take strike action.

Up to 12,600 flights every day – around a third of the journeys made across the continent during the peak summer holiday period – could be delayed or cancelled as a result of the industrial action.

Workers at Eurocontrol, which manages European airspace, have said they will walk out in a dispute over pay, working hours and staffing issues, according to The Times.

An industry source told the newspaper: “In a full-blown strike, 20 to 30% of flights would be at least delayed.”

The source added: “They are big numbers”.

The first round of strikes is expected to be announced as soon as Monday unless last-minute crisis talks can reach an agreement.

Passengers face long queues at Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands File pic: AP
Passengers face long queues at Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands. File pic: AP

But officials at the European air traffic management body are said to have described the walkouts as “inevitable”, with no contingency plan believed to be in place.

It is more bad news for holidaymakers who were warned earlier this week to brace themselves for a “challenging” summer of travel involving delays and longer flight times, in particular to and from London, Barcelona, Brussels, Athens, Marseille and Budapest.

Eurocontrol is expecting around 33,000 flights for the next eight weeks – with the number set to rise to 34,000 on Fridays in July and August.

Impact ‘massive and extremely disruptive’

The impact of the strikes is predicted to be “massive and extremely disruptive”, a senior airline source claimed.

In a letter to managers, the transport workers union Union Syndicale Bruxelles (USB), called for more controllers to be hired immediately.

Eurocontrol – which handles tens of thousands of messages from pilots and staff every day – is believed to be operating with a 25% shortfall, equating to 40 workers.

The Times reports the letter says: “As difficult as industrial action is on everyone, we see no other path forward than to inform you of our decision to progress [with strikes].”

The union said its demands are “lawful, strong and fair” and “in the interest of the agency, the network manager, our stakeholders (operational and member states), the flying public at large and ourselves as loyal employees of the agency”.

Read more:
‘Air rage’ incidents almost triple in the UK
Worst airlines for UK flight delays revealed

Wizz Air and Ryanair passenger numbers soar

Summer of strike action looms

Eurocontrol director-general, Raul Medina, earlier said the war in Ukraine meant there was less airspace available for travel.

“To be successful over the summer, we need everyone to play their part,” he said.

“Airports need to be well-staffed, it is vital (air traffic services) provide enough capacity and airlines stick to their schedules.”

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A summer of disruption looms

A Eurocontrol spokesperson told Sky News that a trade union “announced a period of six months during which industrial action could take place” in its network manager operations centre.

“No specific dates for industrial action have been announced; this was a pre-warning,” they said.

The company is “actively engaging with all social partners” and is “committed to finding solutions through social dialogue”, the spokesperson added.

“Eurocontrol is making every effort to keep negotiations open and to find a constructive way forward.”

The threat of action comes as budget airline Ryanair this week announced more than 900 journeys were cancelled in June as a result of air traffic control strikes across France – with around 160,000 people affected by the grounded flights.

French air traffic controllers took part in a series of strikes last month – marking their 60th day of action this year – with a 34-hour walk-out, which ended on 30 June.

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TUC criticises the government’s new Strikes Bill

Strikes are continuing in other industries, too.

In the UK, schools in England are facing further disruption as teachers stage their second strike this week on Friday.

Junior doctors in England will strike for five consecutive days this month – from 7am on 13 July until 7am on 18 July – in what will be the longest NHS walkout in history.

Disruption to rail journeys is also set to intensify as an overtime ban was extended, as ASLEF general secretary Mick Wheelan vowed to take action for 20 years until an agreement was reached.

The union boss told Sky News: “It is still our intention to find the resolution… we’re going to keep taking action until someone listens to us.”

Economy shrugs off strikes to return to growth, aided by shopping and nights out | Business News

The UK economy shrugged off the impact of strikes to return to growth in April, according to official figures charting a pick-up in spending at the shops and in bars and restaurants.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) measured growth of 0.2% following a contraction of 0.3% in the previous month.

It reported growth over the three months to April was 0.1%.

ONS director of economic statistics, Darren Morgan, said of the performance: “GDP (gross domestic product) bounced back after a weak March.

“Bars and pubs had a comparatively strong April while car sales rebounded and education partially recovered from the effect of the previous month’s strikes.

“These were partially offset by falls in health, which was affected by the junior doctors’ strikes, along with falls in computer manufacturing and the often-erratic pharmaceuticals industry.

“House builders and estate agents also had a poor month.

“Over the last three months as a whole the economy grew a little, driven largely by the construction industries.

“The services sector dragged growth downwards, partly due to the impact of public sector strikes.”

The ONS update follows hot on the heels of upgrades in recent weeks to UK economic expectations by key international bodies such as the IMF and OECD.

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OECD chief explains high UK inflation

Both had initially predicted a recession during 2023.

However, there is no cause for celebration as the growth being widely talked for this year represents just a few tenths of a per cent all considered.

Confidence to spend and invest is being dented heavily by high inflation.

The Bank of England is widely tipped to act further on the pace of rising prices by imposing a further interest rate hike next week.

It is worried that so-called core inflation, which strips out volatile elements such as energy and food, remains stubbornly high.

Rate-setters would have also been concerned by wage data revealed on Tuesday that showed a sharp rise, building on worries that wage settlements to combat the impact of inflation will just intensify the UK’s price pressures.

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Leap in basic wage growth

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said of the ONS economic data: “We are growing the economy, with the IMF saying that from 2025 we will grow faster than Germany, France and Italy.

“But high growth needs low inflation, so we must stick relentlessly to our plan to halve the rate this year to protect family budgets.”

Read more:
‘On me personally’ if inflation isn’t halved, says Rishi Sunak
Wage growth is good news for workers, but not necessarily the economy – analysis

His Labour shadow, Rachel Reeves, responded: “Labour wants to match the ambition of the British people – while the Tories would rather continue down a path of managed decline of low growth and high taxes.

“Despite our country’s huge potential and promise, today is another day in the dismal low growth record book of this Conservative government.

“The facts remain that families are feeling worse off, facing a soaring Tory mortgage penalty and we’re lagging behind on the global stage.

“Labour’s mission to secure the highest sustained growth in the G7 will make families across every part of our country better off.”

Heathrow strikes on almost every weekend over summer | Business News

Security staff at Heathrow Airport have announced an escalation of strike action, with walkouts to take place nearly every weekend from mid-June to the end of August.

Members of Unite are embroiled in a long-running dispute over pay which led to industrial action last month and Easter.

From 24 June, 31 days of strikes will take place by more than 2,000 security staff. Officers from Heathrow terminal 3 are joining the industrial action for the first time in the coming dates.

The workers will be on strike on:

• June 24, 25, 28, 29 and 30

• July 14-16, 21-24, and 28-31

• August 4-7, 11-14, 18-20 and 24-27

Heathrow said similar strikes in recent weeks, by campus security and staff in terminal five, have not been disruptive.

“Unite has already tried and failed to disrupt the airport with unnecessary strikes on some of our busiest days and we continue to build our plans to protect journeys during any future action,” a spokesperson for the airport said.

Passengers can rest assured that we will do everything we can to minimise strike disruption so they can enjoy their hard-earned summer holidays.”

During the periods of industrial action – by roughly 1,400 security staff – passengers were only able to bring two carry-on items through security.

The union said the dispute could escalate further in the coming weeks.

It said Heathrow security officers are paid less than others at major airports in London and the south east. The officers, Unite said, were the highest paid before the COVID-19 pandemic but are now paid between £5,000 and £6,000 less a year than counterparts at Stansted and Gatwick airports.

Heathrow says this is untrue and that Unite is not using like for like comparisons with airports that require anti-social work hours and to be on shift seven days a week.

The airport also says it was one of the only organisations during the pandemic not to make any frontline redundancies and a very small number of contracts were “aligned with current market rates”.

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Onay Kasab from Unite the Union says that changes to strike action in the NHS

But Unite’s general secretary says Heathrow has “its priorities all wrong”.

“This is an incredibly wealthy company, which this summer is anticipating bumper profits and an executive pay bonanza,” Sharon Graham said.

“It’s also expected to pay out huge dividends to shareholders, yet its workers can barely make ends meet and are paid far less than workers at other airports.”

Teacher strikes: More walkouts loom as unions vow to coordinate action in autumn | UK News

Every state school in England could face more strikes in the autumn, after teaching unions vowed to coordinate walkouts if they go ahead.

The move means 400,000 members from the National Education Union (NEU), Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), NASUWT and Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) could trigger widespread disruption as part of the long-running dispute over pay.

However, only the NEU currently holds a mandate to strike, with members set to take action on Tuesday. It will re-ballot its members over summer over whether to continue walkouts.

NAHT and the NASUWT teaching union both failed to make the 50% threshold in its latest balloting, and will ask members again ahead of the autumn term.

The ASCL will also ballot its members – the first time in its history.

Asked about the impact of possible co-ordinated strike action at the NAHT’s annual conference in Telford, Mr Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “I think with our four unions you would find that every state school in England would be affected by the dispute and that would put you up at 300,000-400,000 teachers… involved in taking the action, I would have thought.

“We don’t want to take it. We want to find a solution. But with all four of us acting together I think we will all pass the government’s undemocratic thresholds and so it would be an enormous response from our members.

“We would sincerely apologise to parents for disrupting their children’s education if we’re pushed to that. And we would sincerely apologise to them for disrupting their home and their working lives. However, what we are seeing is disruption in children’s education every week of the school year.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT, told the conference: “I have been around a decade and I have never seen the co-ordination that we are seeing here.”

The latest move from teaching unions comes after the government offered teachers a £1,000 one-off payment for this year, as well as a 4.5% pay rise for next year.

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Schools to face co-ordinated strikes

Read more:
When and why NEU members are striking, school closures and how your child is affected
GMB union votes to accept NHS pay offer after Unite rejects government deal

All four unions rejected the offer.

A decision on pay for education staff has been given to the independent School Teachers’ Review Body.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “For unions to co-ordinate strike action with the aim of causing maximum disruption to schools is unreasonable and disproportionate, especially given the impact the pandemic has already had on their learning.

“Children’s education has always been our absolute priority, and they should be in classrooms where they belong.

“We have made a fair and reasonable teacher pay offer to the unions, which recognises teachers’ hard work and commitment as well as delivering an additional £2bn in funding for schools, which they asked for.”

NHS strikes: ‘All options on table’ for ‘unprecedented’ coordinated junior doctors and nurses strikes | UK News

“All options are on the table” regarding possible coordinated strikes by junior doctors and nurses, a union representative has warned.

Dr Arjan Singh, chair of the British Medical Association’s (BMA) junior doctors committee, refused to rule out the possibility of coordinating industrial action with Royal College of Nursing (RCN), saying: “We have a very close relationship with the RCN and every option is to be considered.”

He told Sky News the BMA is “in full solidarity with nursing colleagues”, after the RCN voted for a fresh 48-hour walkout from 8pm on 30 April to 8pm on 2 May.

Dr Singh called the government’s pay offer to the nurses “derisory” and “not reflective of years of pay erosion that they have endured or the sacrifices they’ve made”.

Member of the junior doctor's committee for the British Medical Association, Dr Arjan Singh, says Health Secretary Steve Barclay refuses to negotiate and says the strikes will stop if the pay is raised to £19 an hour.
Dr Arjan Singh from the junior doctors committee for the British Medical Association

Sir Julian Hartley, chief executive of NHS Providers, said a coordinated strike would be “completely unprecedented”.

“We would be in uncharted territory,” he told Sky News. “It would be even more challenging to plan for, manage and mitigate all the enormous challenges it would present the service with.

“Doctors and nurses are fundamental to the delivery of care across the service. It really is deeply concerning if that’s the scenario we’re facing.”


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‘Desperate need’ to end strikes

Sir Julian said the NHS was in “desperate need” of an end to strike action.

“We need both the government and unions to come together quickly to try and find a way through this,” he added.

The RCN strike comes after a 54% vote to reject an offer of a 5% pay rise this year and a cash payment for last year.

Staff in emergency departments, intensive care units and cancer care are expected to take action for the first time.

But members of a second union, Unison, voted to accept the same offer by 74% on a turnout of 53%.

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RCN votes for fresh strike

The health unions are lodged in their own dangerous game of divide and rule

It’s not a good news, bad news type of situation – it’s a mess. By rejecting the government’s pay offer, nurses from the RCN are now in conflict with their health worker colleagues from Unison, who have overwhelmingly decided to accept it.

At the start of the process, the unions warned that the government was playing a dangerous game of divide and rule. Now they have managed to do it to themselves.

Other health unions including the GMB, Unite and those representing physios and dieticians are consulting their members. They have until 28 April.

Until then, we are in limbo. In early May, all the unions will go back to the government with their decision. Unison has said it will ask the government to impose its pay deal on their members.

But the RCN has already announced further strike dates and will ballot its members for more action over the last six months of the year.

It raises the prospect of nurses and junior doctors standing together on picket lines for the first time. That is a situation that will fill NHS Trust leaders with dread.

The outcome will not be known until at least May. It means more uncertainty for long-suffering patients.

Junior doctors await ‘credible offer’

Around 47,000 junior doctors finished their four-day strike in a separate dispute over pay at 7am on Saturday.

The BMA has urged the government to hold talks over junior doctors’ demands for “pay restoration” to 2008 levels, but ministers have claimed that would amount to a 35% pay rise.

Dr Singh accused Health Secretary Steve Barclay of “hiding” behind pre-recorded media interviews.

“We said, ‘give us a credible offer, and we would call off the strikes’,” he said.

“But radio silence is what we’re hearing from our health secretary at the moment, and it’s very concerning.”

A “mass haemorrhaging and exodus of doctors” would continue if a “credible offer” was not made, he added.

Ambulance strikes: Grant Shapps concerned walk-outs ‘will put lives at risk’ | Politics News

Grant Shapps has said he is concerned ambulance strikes tomorrow will put lives at risk.

The business secretary criticised ambulance unions for failing to provide details of where they will be striking to the government so they can ensure the Army can cover them.

As part of the biggest day of NHS industrial action ever, ambulance crews and call handlers will join nurses across England in a coordinated walkout for the first time on 6 February.

Read more: Who is taking industrial action in 2023 and when?

Mr Shapps praised the nurses’ union for telling the government where they are striking and for ensuring emergency cover is in place but said ambulance unions have not done the same.

Asked if lives will be put at risk, he told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: “I am concerned that it does, if you have a situation which has been happening so far where you don’t have co-operation between the back-up services – typically the Army – and the people who are striking.

“We have seen the situation where the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) very responsibly, before the strikes, told the NHS ‘This is where we are going to be striking’ and they are able to put the emergency cover in place.

“Unfortunately we have been seeing a situation with the ambulance unions where they refuse to provide that information.

“That leaves the army, who are driving the back-ups here, in a very difficult position – a postcode lottery when it comes to having a heart attack or a stroke when there is a strike on.

“We cannot have that situation. That is why I am introducing laws for minimum safety levels.”

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‘Who caused the economic chaos?’ – Wrack

Minimum safety levels bill

Last month, Mr Shapps introduced the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill to parliament which, if passed, would make it a legal requirement for key services to have a set amount of cover when they strike.

Unions and workers who did not comply would face being sued or dismissed.

Currently, police officers, members of the armed forces and some prison officers are prohibited from striking.

This new law would cover those working in health, fire and rescue, education, transport, border security, decommissioning of nuclear installations and management of radioactive waste and spent fuel.

‘Rishi Sunak can make big decisions now’

Mr Shapps’ latest concern about ambulance strikes came as the head of the nurses union issued a direct appeal to Rishi Sunak to intervene in their pay dispute.

In a last-minute bid to avert tomorrow’s strikes for nurses, RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said a “meaningful” pay offer from the government could do just that.

Pat Cullen (centre) joins RCN members on the picket line
Pat Cullen (centre) joins RCN members on the picket line

In a letter to the PM, she drew a comparison to the sacking of Conservative Party chairman Nadhim Zahawi, after he was found to have breached the ministerial code in relation to his tax affairs.

“Big decisions can be made by you at any point in the week in the interests of good government,” she said, urging Mr Sunak to show his government is on the side of the “hardworking, decent taxpayer”.

“There could be no simpler way to demonstrate this commitment than bringing the nurses’ strike to a swift close.”

When are the NHS strikes this week?

Nurses will strike on 6 and 7 February as they call for better conditions and a pay rise. They want 5% above RPI inflation – but have said they would accept around 10%.

Ambulance workers will join nurses for the first day and walk out again on 10 February in a call for an inflation-matching pay rise and better conditions.

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The RCN and other NHS unions called off strikes in Wales this week after receiving a new pay offer from the Welsh government, while negotiations in Scotland are ongoing.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay called the industrial action “regrettable” and despite contingency plans, said that the strikes will “undoubtedly have an impact on patients and cause delays to NHS services”.

Train strikes set to cause widespread travel misery as drivers walk out for second time this week | UK News

Rail passengers are facing fresh travel chaos today as train drivers hold another strike leaving large parts of the country with no services all day.

Members of Aslef and the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) will walk out in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions.

Operators said there would be severe disruption, with trains that do run due to start later and finish much earlier than usual – typically between 7.30am and 6.30pm.

Saturday morning services are also expected to be affected.

Read more:
Who is going on strike and when?

The rail industry has criticised the rejection of an offer which would give drivers an 8% pay rise over two years, taking average salaries up from nearly £60,000 a year, to almost £65,000.

Simon Weller, assistant general secretary of Aslef, said the dispute was going “backwards” because of the lack of progress in months of talks.

“I don’t know whether to point the finger of blame at the ineptitude of the Department for Transport or the Rail Delivery Group.

“We would struggle to recommend a deal of a 4% pay rise for last year and 4% this year if there were no conditions attached, but we are being asked to give up collective bargaining and effectively agree to a no-strike deal.

“Obviously it was going to be rejected – it was designed to fail.”

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group said: “To minimise the impact of the Aslef action, we advise passengers to check before they travel, allow extra time and find out when their first and last train will depart.”

It will be the second strike by train drivers this week, after they took part in the huge day of industrial action on Wednesday.

Other professions who walked out included teachers, university staff, civil servants, bus drivers and security guards.

Around 1,900 members of Unite working as bus drivers for Abellio in London will complete a three-day strike on Friday in a separate dispute over pay.

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Meanwhile, train services between Scotland and England will be severely disrupted by the strike.

Cross-border services operated by CrossCountry, Transpennine Express and Avanti West Coast will not run on Friday.

LNER said it will run an amended service and Lumo, which run trains between Edinburgh and London, said it will aim to run as many services as possible.

No LNER trains will run any further north than Edinburgh, with trains between Edinburgh and London King’s Cross starting later and finishing earlier than usual.

ScotRail has reassured customers that all services would operate as normal this week.

Teacher strikes to begin – and this Leicester school is making sure they have maximum impact | UK News

Pupils and parents across the country are preparing for disruption on Wednesday as striking teachers at thousands of schools walk out.

At Hazel Community Primary School in Leicester, headteacher Daniel Hansen has made the decision to close to all pupils.

He supports the majority of staff who plan to strike, and is making sure the walkout has maximum impact by not even providing childcare.

Daniel Hansen
Daniel Hansen

Instead, lunch boxes will be made available for pupils entitled to free school meals to collect from the site.

“I think there are two key elements of this,” Mr Hansen said. “There’s the funded pay increase that we want for teachers that matches inflation.

“A huge element is the fact that we have to protect the education sector and the teaching profession going forward.

“We have to do something about it, otherwise nobody will want to become a teacher.”

At the school gate, many parents supported his decision, but others were concerned about who would look after their children on strike day.

Rachel Badzire has never been on strike before and, as a teacher in a special school in Cheshire, she has found the decision to walk out difficult.

Hazel Community Primary School in Leicester
Hazel Community Primary School in Leicester

‘Enough is enough’

“I love my children that I teach, and I think it’s a worthwhile job, however I do feel at this point in time it’s good for me to join with other members of my union and show solidarity,” she said.

“We need to put a message out to the government that enough is enough. We don’t have much money, and we need to make sure that we can pay bills and still have a life”.

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Have previous strikes been successful?

At Cockshut Hill Secondary School in Birmingham, they’ve decided to open to year 11 pupils who have their GCSE exams in the coming months as well as the youngest year group, year 7.

Any other pupils who are vulnerable will be allowed in, but the majority of pupils will have to remain at home.

Luca Duggan and Aya Seid are among the pupils who face a day of online learning. They’re both in year 10.

Aya Seid and Luca Duggan
Aya Seid and Luca Duggan

‘I’m a little stressed about it’

Luca, 14, said: “We get a break off school, but then that may affect our learning, but we’ve got online learning so not too much to worry about really.”

He added it feels “similar” to time off during the pandemic, and said he supports teachers “to an extent”.

“I feel like if that’s what they’re going to have to do to get the pay, then that’s what they’re going to have to do.”

Aya, 14, is more concerned. “It is quite a shame that we don’t get the education that we need,” she said.

“I am a little stressed about it. In school each lesson contains so much knowledge and so much information that could help us get a few extra marks to get a grade 9 in GCSE, but even though we are at home we are getting lots of work to do.”

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Why are teachers striking?

‘Get around the table and seek a resolution’

Vince Green, the CEO of the Summit Learning Trust that runs Cockshut Hill and seven other schools, is urging the government and unions to reach an agreement so that further planned strikes don’t happen.

“From my point of view we don’t want disruption to the learning of children and young people particularly after the levels of disruption that they’ve had in recent years through no fault of their own,” he said.

“What I’d really like to see if that the adults involved get around the table and seek a resolution prior to next month.”

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Schools minister Nick Gibb has said the government is having “very constructive discussions” on the teachers’ strikes, and has already held several meetings within the department.

“We are still negotiating and discussing issues of pay, of workload, and other issues that are of concern to teachers,” he said.

“It is disappointing the NEU [National Education Union] has decided to go ahead with strikes with all the disruption it causes to children’s education and to families and how they plan their working life.”