UK strikes 2023: Which workforces are striking or threatening to strike?

UK strikes 2023: Which workforces are striking or threatening to strike?

A university staff union is set to strike for five days, adding to a long list of autumn walkouts that includes doctors and rail staff.

University and College Union (UCU) has confirmed it will be taking action at dozens of institutions from Monday, which will clash with many Freshers Week events.

The walkouts will be from Monday to Friday at 42 universities with the actions over pay and pay deductions.

London Underground staff have announced they will strike on October 4 and 6, the RMT union has announced.

RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport) is taking the action in protest at pay conditions, while Aslef has announced similar walkouts on September 28 and also on October 4.

Industrial action has been ongoing since December 2022 (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)
Industrial action has been ongoing since December 2022 (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

RMT boss Mick Lynch said: “Station staff have had enough of having their livelihoods threatened by job losses and attacks on their terms and conditions.”

Transport Secretary Mark Harper has called the strikes, which coincide with the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, as “political” and “cynical”.

Here is a comprehensive look at all those who are striking or threatening to strike in the near future across different UK workforces, as well as a summary of the recent industrial action that has taken place.

Junior doctors’ and consultants’ strike

Junior doctors and consultants belonging to the British Medical Association (BMA) will go on a co-ordinated strike together in the coming months.

Both consultants and junior doctors will strike together on October 2, 3, and 4.

Staff will work on a “Christmas day cover” basis for both spells of industrial action, meaning emergency care will continue to be provided.

It comes after junior doctors voted in favour of continuing strike action, with the BMA’s mandate on industrial action renewed for another six months.

Rishi Sunak announced in July that pay negotiations had ended and that consultants would receive a six per cent rise. However, the BMA says consultants’ take-home pay has fallen by more than a third in 14 years.

Dr Vishal Sharma, the BMA consultants committee chairman, said: “We would much rather be inside the hospital seeing our patients. But we cannot sit by and watch passively as we are persistently devalued, undermined, and forced to watch colleagues leave — much to the detriment of the NHS and patients.”


The future of rail and Tube strikes

Members of the Aslef union will strike on September 30 and October 4. They will also not work overtime for five days from October 2 to October 6. And disruption will likely continue for the foreseeable future.

Thousands of London Underground workers are to strike on October 4 and 6 in a long-running dispute over jobs and conditions, the RMT union has announced.

Airport workers’ strike

Unite members working for ground-handling company Red Handling walked out for four days from Friday, August 18. They went on strike for a further four days from Friday, August 25, which impacted the August bank holiday weekend.

Red Handling is responsible for ground handling for Norse Atlantic, Norwegian, Delta, TAP Air Portugal, and Saudi.

At the time, a Gatwick spokesperson said: “We are aware of the recent ballot results and encourage staff at Wilson James, Red Handling and their union to reach a resolution.

“We will support Wilson James, who hold the contract for providing assistance to passengers, in their contingency planning.”

According to Unite, neither of the relevant businesses made offers that satisfied workers’ expectations.

Teachers and university staff

The latest union to announce strike action is the UCU which said 42 universities are due to strike for five days from Monday to Friday while an extra 10 institutions will take part for one of those days.

The four unions involved in the teachers’ strike dispute — the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), NASUWT, and NEU — have been putting a revised pay offer to members. ASCL and the NEU have called off their ballots for industrial action since accepting their pay offer, while the NAHT and NASUWT unions are yet to announce members’ responses.

In a joint statement announcing the pay offer in mid-July, the prime minister, education secretary, and teaching unions called it “properly funded” and said all schools would receive additional funding “above what was proposed in March”. The 6.5 per cent rise was recommended by the School Teachers’ Review Body.

NEU members went on strike on March 15. The industrial action followed a major day of strikes on February 1, when half of all UK schools were at least partly closed, as well as other recent strikes.

Though no more full strikes are planned, the NASUWT are taking action short of a strike. The union has told members to begin working to rule — limiting their working time by following their exact working hours — from September 18. Staff at about 10,000 schools could be involved, it says.

While the dispute has been resolved in Scotland, teachers in Northern Ireland have also been taking action short of a strike since October 2022, as well as NAHT members in Wales since February.