Half a million Scots to strike in biggest co-ordinated action in decades
Around half a million workers across Scotland are set to down tools in a co-ordinated day of strike action.
Civil servants, higher education staff, teachers, some rail operators and coffin makers will walk out on Wednesday as part of a nationwide defence of the right to strike, organised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).
The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) estimates 500,000 workers across Scotland will walk out in what is the biggest day of co-ordinated strike action in decades.
Around 100,000 civil servants will walk out across the UK for one day of action across most government departments, the PCS union said, including staff working at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh and the Scottish Government.
It comes in response to UK Government legislation which will seek to limit strike action and allow employers to put in place minimum levels of service during strikes.
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The SNP, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have previously said they will be attending as normal.
The Scottish Greens and Scottish Labour will not be participating in any parliamentary business on Wednesday.
Maggie Chapman, Green MSP for North East Scotland, said: “The Scottish Greens stand firmly with striking workers. We will not cross any virtual or physical picket lines and hope that MSPs from all parties will join us in that.
“With the Tories introducing a range of new and repressive anti-trade union legislation, it is more vital than ever that we stand in unity and solidarity.
“So many of our existing rights have been won by working people coming together and taking action. Whether it is minimum wage, paid holidays or weekends, all of these rights have been hard fought and won by organised, unionised workers.
“Trade unions have done so much for every single one of us, which is why we must support them.”
Courts and tribunals may also see disruption but those due to attend court on Wednesday have been advised to do so, the Crown Office and Prosecution Service said.
Tomorrow 100,000 civil servants across the UK go on strike.
Support your local picket line, and show your solidarity with every worker standing up for themselves and the services they deliver.
Let’s do this. ✊🏼 @ucu @EISUnion @ASLEFunion @RMTunion @NEUnion
— PCS Scotland (@PCS_Scotland) January 31, 2023
Higher education workers will also walk out as part of their ongoing dispute over pensions, pay and conditions.
Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at the majority of Scotland’s universities will take strike action.
Some train company workers have also walked out, affecting some services to Scotland.
Train drivers in Aslef and the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) are embroiled in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions.
A recent offer of a 4% pay rise for last year and another 4% this year was rejected, with the unions arguing that conditions attached to the proposed deal, such as compulsory Sunday working, were never going to be accepted.
Aslef argues that more train drivers should be employed, but claims rail operators find it cheaper to pay staff overtime to work on Sundays.
Services will be severely affected on Wednesday, and again on Friday during a second strike, with some areas having no trains at all and those that do run will start later and finish earlier than usual.
However, ScotRail says services will operate as normal on Wednesday.
✅ We're operating our full timetable as normal this week. The advertised strike action by members of the ASLEF & RMT unions does not involve ScotRail staff. pic.twitter.com/VgzHInHjUV
— ScotRail (@ScotRail) January 31, 2023
David Simpson, ScotRail service delivery director, said: “No ScotRail services will be affected by this week’s upcoming strike action. It is disappointing to see more widespread disruption across Great Britain at a time when the railway needs to be doing everything it can to encourage more people to travel by train.
“The dispute between the trade unions and other train operators does not involve any ScotRail staff, which means ScotRail services will operate as normal on Wednesday 1 and Friday February 3.”
LNER is running a limited service from Edinburgh south of the border, but no trains will run any further north than Edinburgh.
Avanti West Coast has advised customers not to travel on Wednesday or Friday.
Barry Milsom, executive director of operations and safety at Avanti West Coast, said: “On February 1 and 3, we won’t be able to run any trains as a result of this industrial action and our customers are advised not to travel.
“Services will also be impacted on February 2 with a revised timetable in place, and customers should check before they travel on this date.
“We all need to work with each other to find a solution which will benefit our people and customers. It is essential that as an industry we continue to talk with the RMT and Aslef about industry reform so we can develop together a railway fit for the 21st century.”
School strikes will continue in Clackmannanshire and Aberdeen as part of the 16-day rolling strike action by the EIS union.
The union says there has still been no constructive talks on pay, with the Scottish Government maintaining that the demands of 10% are “unaffordable”.
📢 Calling all Glasgow strikers, supporters and campaigners 📢
Come along to the #RightToStrike demo at 12pm at the Donald Dewer statue in Buchanan Street.
Bring your flags and banners ✊ pic.twitter.com/0XVFBEKX6S
— STUC (@ScottishTUC) January 31, 2023
Wednesday’s national day of action will culminate in a Right To Strike rally organised by the STUC and will be addressed by SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and STUC general secretary Roz Foyer.
Rallies will also take place in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee throughout the day.
READ MORE: Labour accuse Government of 'misleading claims' over anti-strike law
Ms Foyer said: “Across the country, 500,000 workers – in partnership with the TUC National Day of Action against this Bill – are striking in one of the biggest displays of worker power we’ve seen in generations.
“The Tories have given workers the length and breadth of Scotland the clearest indication yet that they’re running scared of our ability to fight and organise for a better future.
“Far from dismembering our movement, the UK Government have empowered it. We’ll make that abundantly clear to them tomorrow at our national rally.”
Business Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The first job of any government is to keep the public safe. Because whilst we absolutely believe in the ability to strike, we are duty-bound to protect the lives and livelihoods of the British people.
“I am introducing a Bill that will give government the power to ensure that vital public services will have to maintain a basic function, by delivering minimum safety levels ensuring that lives and livelihoods are not lost.
“We do not want to have to use this legislation unless we have to, but we must ensure the safety of the British public.”