Britain's winter of strikes: Here's how much money unions are asking for

·5-min read
DARTFORD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 01: A sign hangs on a picket line at Dartford delivery office on December 01, 2022 in Dartford, England. The strikes went ahead after talks between Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union ended without agreement. Strikes are also planned for December 9th. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Strikes are set to bring an array of public services to a standstill this winter. (Getty Images)

The UK is facing a winter of walkouts with warnings the situation could mirror disruption not seen since the 1970s.

Key workers from an array of public sectors are preparing strikes and some form of industrial action is planned for every day in December as workers demand better pay and working conditions.

The latest data shows a widening gulf between pay growth for private and public sector workers, as prices of essentials continue to soar.

With consumer price index (CPI) inflation hitting 10.7% in the 12 months to November, unions are calling for significant increases as workers struggle with the worsening cost of living crisis.

The number of working days lost to strike action hit the highest in more than a decade in October, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals pay in the public and private sector is failing to keep up with inflation. (ONS)

Among sectors striking in the coming weeks are:

  • Ambulances

  • Nurses

  • Rail

  • Buses

  • Highways

  • Royal Mail

Here's what unions are calling for.


Who's striking and when? The GMB union has announced around 10,000 ambulance workers will walk out on December 21 and 28. Unite has said more than 1,600 of its ambulance members will also join the walkout.

What are their pay demands? The GMB union said workers have rejected a 4.7% annual pay increase from the government, which it described as a "massive real terms pay cut". Unite told Yahoo News UK they are looking for a pay rise above inflation.

What are their other demands? Pay rises are their key demand.


Who's striking and when? The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has said its members will strike for 12 hours on the 15 and 20 of December across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Strikes in Scotland have been cancelled after members accepted an offer from the Scottish government. It is the first time the RCN has gone on strike in its 106-year history, and up to 100,000 nurses could participate.

What are their pay demands? The RCN has demanded a 19.2% pay rise. However, Labour and the Conservatives have said such a large pay increase would be "unaffordable".

What are their other demands? In the RCN's "Fight For Fair Pay" campaign they are also calling on the government to commit to "valuing the training, qualifications, skills, responsibilities and experience" of nursing staff.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2022/12/07: Ambulances belonging to the London Ambulance Service are parked at St. Thomas' Hospital. More than 10,000 NHS ambulance staff from nine NHS hospital trusts in England and Wales will walk out on December 21 in a dispute over pay, the trade union GMB has announced. (Photo by Tejas Sandhu/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Nurses and ambulance workers are preparing walkouts in December amid disputes with the government over pay. (Getty Images)


Who's striking and when? The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) union has said 40,000 workers across Network Rail and 14 train companies will stage walk-outs on December 13, 14, 16 and 17; and January 3, 4, 6 and 7.

What are their pay demands? The RMT are asking for a 7% salary increase this year. They have rejected Network Rail's offer of a 5% pay rise this year and a 4% rise next year. The union has also rejected an offer from the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) of an 8% increase over two years with a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies until April 2024. RDG want workers to accept the repurposing or closure of ticket offices and Sunday working as part of the agreement.

What are their other demands? Other reasons the RMT are striking include plans to cut around 2,000 jobs and make changes to the Railway Pension Scheme

Read more: This simple calendar shows when the strikes are taking place this Christmas


Who's striking? Bus workers across the UK are carrying out a number of strikes at various dates, depending on the location of the workers. Among them are engineers at Go North East bus company striking from 19 to 25 December and drivers at Stagecoach North East in Sunderland walking out from 23-27 December. Elsewhere, London bus workers will strike 13 times between 16 December and 26 January.

What are their pay demands? Unite has said engineers at Go North East had rejected a 10% pay increase, claiming it was a real terms pay cut.

What are their other demands? Pay rises are their key demand.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2022/12/13: RMT (Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers Union) General Secretary Mick Lynch (C) stands with union members behind a banner which states 'Defend rail jobs, pay, conditions' at the picket line outside Euston Station as fresh rail strikes hit the UK. (Photo by Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
The RMT is demanding a 7% pay rise for its members. (Getty Images)


Who's striking and when? The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) has announced its members, which includes control centre staff, will strike across England. Workers in the north-west, Yorkshire, Humber and the north-east regions will strike on 16 and 17 December. London and the south-east will strike from 22 to 25 December. And the West Midlands and the south-west will strike on 30 and 31 December. All National Highways workplaces take industrial action on 3 and 4 January 2023.

What are their pay demands? The PCS has said members want a pay rise of 10% and a living wage of £15 per hour.

What are their other demands? A 2% cut in contributions for PCS members who have overpaid on their pensions since 2018, no further cuts to redundancy terms, a job security agreement, and resources needed to deliver public services.

Read more: As workers strike, UK public sector pay hits 19-year low in real terms

Royal Mail

Who's striking and when? The Communication Workers Union (CWU), which has around 115,000 members, has announced staff who collect, sort and deliver parcels and letters will strike on December 14, 15, 23, and 24.

What are their pay demands? The Royal Mail has said it is offering workers a 9% pay rise over 18 months. However, the CWU say they are demanding a pay rise that "fully addresses the cost of living" and highlighted that retail price index inflation (RPI) is higher than the pay rise. RPI hit 14% in the 12 months to November.

What are their other demands? The union is also calling for a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies after Royal Mail indicated around 10,000 jobs could be cut by August. The Royal Mail has said it would offer a new profit-share scheme for employees and make voluntary redundancy conditions more generous.

Watch: Richard Madeley clashes with Mick Lynch over rail strikes