Hundreds of thousands of teachers, civil servants and train drivers will walk out on the first day of next month.
Hundreds of thousands of teachers, civil servants and train drivers will strike on February 1 in what promises to be the most disruptive day of the wave of public sector industrial action.
Members of four major unions will take part in the walkout, which Downing Street today warned would cause “significant disruption” for the public.
Nearly 400,000 members of the National Education Union (NEU), the Public and Commercial Services (PCS), the RMT and Aslef will all go out on strike.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) will also hold a national “protect the right to strike” event, which will see protests take place across the country, on the same day.
Asked if Rishi Sunak was concerned about the impact on the public, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “Certainly we’re in no doubt that this strike action which will fall on the same day will cause significant disruption to the public — whether it’s children having their education disrupted or the public trying to go about their daily lives on their commute.
“We don’t think it’s the right course of action. We continue to call unions to step away from the picket lines and continue with the discussion.”
Pressed on whether it was right for unions in different sectors to strike on the same day, the spokesman added: “We don’t think it is the right approach at all. Some of the discussions we’ve had, which have been constructive, are the right way forward.”
Teachers have become the latest batch of public sector workers to announce that they will also take strike action over pay and working conditions.
The NEU the largest teaching union, confirmed yesterday that 90% of its teacher members in England who voted in the ballot backed strikes, on a turnout of 53%.
In Wales, 92% of NEU teacher members who voted in the ballot backed strikes, on a turnout of 58%.
Around 24,000 schools and education centres could be forced to close on February 1, prompting the Department for Education (DfE) to issue new guidance to mitigate the impact of strikes.
Schools have been told that they should take “all reasonable steps” to stay open for as many pupils as possible, and that they should prioritise the attendance of vulnerable children, children of critical workers and pupils due to take exams and other tests.
The government has also asked schools to offer a “remote” education wherever possible, to consider using agency workers to cover staff absences and for food parcels to be sent out to the most vulnerable children.
Aslef, the union for train drivers, also confirmed today that their members would strike on February 1 and 3 after rejecting the government’s latest pay offer.
The PCS announced last week that 100,000 civil service members would take industrial action.
And the RMT announced today that train drivers at 14 rail operators will also take strike action on February 1 and 3 over jobs, pay and conditions.
It comes a day after the government’s plan to clamp down on strikes passed its first hurdle in parliament yesterday.
The government’s Minimum Service Levels Bill passed in parliament on Monday evening by 309 votes to 249 at second reading.
The bill will now be sent to committee stage, where any amendments to the legislation will be considered.
The bill will force unions and employers to guarantee a base level of service in the health, rail, education, fire and border security sectors while industrial action takes place.
Strikes will be deemed illegal if trade unions fail to do so, while employers will also able to sue unions and sack workers who do not comply with demands to work after strike action has been called.
Trade unions have condemned the legislation as a fundamental threat to the right to strike, but Conservatives who support the bill argue that it protects the rights of the public.