Strike news live – Christmas Eve travel chaos looms as more rail walkouts announced

Christmas Eve travel chaos is on the cards after new rail walkouts were announced on Monday.

Network Rail workers are to stage an extra strike in the long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) will walk out from 6pm on Christmas Eve until 6am on 27 December and will press ahead with two 48-hour strikes next week.

The union announced it will put the latest offer from Network Rail (NR) to its members, with a recommendation to reject.

The RMT said there had been no improved offer from the train operating companies, claiming they still awaited a mandate from the Government.

Strikes on 14 train companies will go ahead next week although talks will be held with the Rail Delivery Group on Tuesday.

It comes as the coming weeks are set to be impacted with a raft of professions striking.

Nurses are set to stage walkouts on two dates in December and firefighters also have begun balloting for strike action.

Key Points

  • Every strike likely to affect the UK by the end of the year

The UK is ‘sleepwalking’ into a food supply crisis, farmers union warns

09:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The UK is “sleepwalking” into a food supply crisis, the country’s union for farmers and growers has warned.

Ahead of an emergency press conference on Tuesday, the National Farmers Union (NFU) said the Government needed to step in to assist primary producers under severe strain from soaring fuel, fertiliser and feed costs.

Union president Minette Batters said egg shortages “could just be the start” as multiple farming sectors were impacted.

“Shoppers up and down the country have for decades had a guaranteed supply of high-quality affordable food produced to some of the highest animal welfare, environmental and food safety standards in the world,” Ms Batters told the BBC.

The UK is ‘sleepwalking’ into a food supply crisis, farmers union warns

RMT says latest Christmas strikes will affect engineering works, not train services

08:58 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The RMT said their latest strike dates over Christmas will affect “engineering works, not train services”.

The union tweeted: “There are very few train services over the Christmas period because of engineering work. This happens every year. Next week’s strike ends eight days before Christmas.”

To view this content, you'll need to update your privacy settings.
Please click here to do so.

Government understands pressure teachers are under, schools minister says

08:38 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Schools minister @NickGibbUK told Sky News the government understands the pressure schools are under but strike action by teachers is “not the answer”.

To view this content, you'll need to update your privacy settings.
Please click here to do so.

Nurses, trains and Royal Mail: Every strike planned in run up to Christmas

08:19 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

As inflation has climbed steadily throughout year, workers have seen rising prices eroding their earnings – just as employers have been trying to make savings or modernise working practices to cope with increasing costs.

The result? Clashes over pay, redundancies, pensions and terms and conditions.

A new “winter of discontent” had begun even before Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement on 17 November, which left householders everywhere feeling even worse off.

And with the cost of living crisis set to deepen, the disputes will inevitably grow fiercer.

These are the professions and industries for which strike dates have already been announced:

From nurses to postal workers – every strike planned in run up to Christmas

Union leader says its members rely on food banks

07:56 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Onay Kasab, national lead officer at Unite the Union, said its members rely on food banks and “have decided to do something about it”.

He said members include security guards at Harrods, those who work for bus company Abellio and also people in the NHS.

Mr Kasab told Sky News: “It takes, I think, some brass neck for ministers who have subsidised lunches to be telling our members, who are now relying on food banks, that they shouldn’t be taking action on pay and to somehow imply that we are holding the country to ransom.

“That is absolutely not the case.”

He said co-ordinated action “makes absolute sense”, adding that union members have “significant public support”.

Angela Rayner accuses ‘militant government’ of ‘complete shambles’ amid strikes

07:40 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has accused the “militant” government of presiding over a “complete shambles” on the railways ahead of further strikes.

She told BBC Breakfast: “These people who are going on strike are going to lose pay, they will lose their pay at a time when they will need it most, they are not doing it at a drop of a hat.

“This is a militant government that is not dealing with the issues and not resolving this strike action, and it’s frustrating.

“The system is absolutely crumbling without the strikes. Anyone who gets on a train now in the North knows that you’re praying if you’re going to get to where you need to get to. Many businesses are now losing staff because they can’t get to work.

“It’s a complete shambles of the government’s making and they really need to get off their hands and resolve this.

“When I speak to the trade unions they’re very clear they do not want to go on strike, they want to resolve this dispute, it’s this government that seems to want to ratchet it up and want to attack workers’ rights and cause this disruption.”

Don’t ‘hold the country to ransom,’ schools minister tells RMT

07:26 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Schools minister Nick Gibb has told the RMT rail union not to “hold the country to ransom” as they prepare strikes in the run-up to Christmas.

He told GB News: “It’s a very disappointing decision by the RMT, they were offered a very good pay deal by the employers, 8% over two years, which is in line with the kind of pay deals that are taking place outside the public sector.

“So, I think the unions really should call off this strike. It’s inconveniencing people up and down the country in the run-up to Christmas, I think it’s a very poor way of conducting negotiations.

“We would urge the unions to talk to employers, to keep negotiating and not to hold the country to ransom, particularly in December as we get nearer to Christmas.”

Shelter staff ‘at risk of homelessness’ continue two-week strike

06:00 , Liam James

More than 600 workers at the homelessness charity Shelter will remain on the picket lines today for the second day of a two-week strike.

They “unprecedented” action by the charity workers was launched after Unite said a 3 per cent pay increase this year has left many of Shelter’s own staff unable to pay their rent.

“It is unforgivable that workers at Shelter find themselves actually being haunted by the prospect of being made homeless,” Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said.

The union has accused the charity’s management of refusing to enter into meaningful negotiations.

Below are pictures from the first day of action:

To view this content, you'll need to update your privacy settings.
Please click here to do so.

Nurses must drop pay demands to ‘send clear message to Putin’, cabinet minister says

05:00 , Liam James

Nurses and ambulance drivers are helping Vladimir Putin in his assault on Ukraine by demanding big pay rises, a cabinet minister has said. The comments triggered widespread ridicule.

Nadhim Zahawi switched tack in the battle to avert pre-Christmas NHS strikes by claiming that the industrial action would expose a “divided” UK when a united front is needed over Russia’s “illegal war”.

“This is a time to come together and to send a very clear message to Mr Putin that we’re not going to be divided in this way,” said the Tory party chair.

Referring to those taking part in the strikes, Mr Zahawi added: “They should reflect on this because that is exactly what Putin wants to see – that division. Let’s not divide, let’s come together.”

The comments were condemned by union leaders including the general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, Pat Cullen, who said: “Using Russia’s war in Ukraine as a justification for a real-terms pay cut for nurses in the UK is a new low for this government.”

Nurses must drop pay demands to ‘send clear message to Putin’, cabinet minister says

DWP staff to strike, with more government departments to follow

04:00 , Liam James

Staff working at the Department for Work and Pensions are to take strike action for two weeks over Christmas.

More than 200 members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union working in three DWP offices in Liverpool and one in Doncaster will walk out from 19 to 31 December.

The union said other targeted action at the DWP is likely to follow as part of the union’s national campaign for a 10 per cent pay rise, job security and no cuts to redundancy terms.

The PCS has previously served notice of a month of strike action across 250 sites of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency and the Rural Payments Agency and 12 days of rolling strike action at the National Highways over Christmas and the New Year.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “It’s a disgrace that our members in the DWP – the government’s own employees – are claiming the benefits they pay out to others. The government is in the position to stop these strikes by putting money on the table, and we call on them to do so.”

The PCS will be announcing strike dates in other departments, including the Home Office, over the next few weeks.

Watch: Mick Lynch says Tories ‘corrupting businesses'

03:00 , Liam James

Mick Lynch has accused the Conservative government of “corrupting business” as the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) announced Christmas strikes.

Union members will walk out from between 6pm hours on Christmas Eve until 5.59am on 27 December.

The action follows strikes planned for 13,14, 16 and 17 December.

“This government is corrupting business... It’s punishing brewers, restaurateurs, [the] entertainment industry, in return for their ideological pursuit of dispute with the railways and trade unions,” the RMT general secretary said.

Nurse strike: Dates to be aware of

02:00 , Liam James

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has announced members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will strike on 15 and 20 December. Up to 100,000 workers are expected to take part in the pre-Christmas walkouts.

Only one NHS employer in Wales will not go ahead with strike action. RCN members in England will strike at half the locations where the legal threshold for action was met. The union added that the number of employers affected will increase in January unless formal negotiations with the government are held.

The union is calling for a pay rise of 5 per cent above inflation, saying that despite a pay rise earlier this year, experienced nurses were worse off by 20 per cent because of successive below-inflation awards since 2010.

The RCN’s mandate to organise strikes runs until early May next year.

Royal Mail strikes could disrupt Christmas post

01:00 , Liam James

Christmas postal deliveries will be hit if, as planned, Royal Mail workers stage six fresh strikes this month, including on Christmas Eve, in a dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said its members would walk out on 9, 11, 14, 15, 23 and 24 December.

Royal Mail bosses, who have been consulting on plans to cut around 10,000 full-time jobs by August, have offered 9 per cent pay rises.

The company is urging customers to “allow plenty of time” when posting items this year – with first class deliveries needing to be sent by 21 December in order to reach recipients in time for Christmas, and second class items two days earlier.

Firefighters open vote on strikes over pay

Monday 5 December 2022 23:58 , Liam James

More than 33,000 firefighters and control room staff started voting on Monday on whether to strike over pay.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) are being asked if they want to take industrial action over a “derisory” 5 per cent pay rise. The ballot closes on 30 January.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “Strike action will always be a last resort but we are running out of options.

“Many firefighters and control staff are desperate. Some are struggling to afford to live. It is a dreadful and very serious state of affairs.

“We are doing everything we can to secure a decent offer. We have held talks with and written letters to many different parties, but no such pay offer has been forthcoming.

“It is the responsibility of fire service employers and governments to pay their staff properly. That is part of their responsibility of running the fire and rescue service. We look forward to receiving a pay offer from them that addresses the cost-of-living crisis firefighters and control staff are living through.

“We have been mandated by our members to fight for pay that they can live on, and will do that.”

If a national strike is held, it would be the first of its kind since pension action between 2013 and 2015 and the first on pay since 2002-2003.

Christmas rail strikes to be most disruptive in 30 years

Monday 5 December 2022 22:45 , Liam James

Here’s Simon Calder, The Independent’s resident travel expert, to take you through what is going on with the rail strikes:

Train travellers’ hope of a resolution to the increasingly deep and bitter dispute on the railway were dashed on Monday evening by the RMT.

The most protracted and disruptive rail strikes since 1989 will begin on 13 December and involve industrial action on a total of 12 days, stretching into the New Year.

The union’s leader, Mick Lynch, called an additional strike straddling four days over Christmas and urged his members to reject a pay offer by Network Rail.

Twenty-four hours earlier, the RMT had rejected outright a conditional pay offer from train operators of 4 per cent rises this year and next. The union said proposals from the Rail Delivery Group.

The December strikes by RMT members are expected to cause severe financial damage to retailers and hospitality businesses, especially in London, by limiting the options for shoppers and weekenders in the build-up to Christmas.

Full coverage here:

December rail strikes now certain to go ahead – with extra stoppages over Christmas

Watch: Mick Lynch announces Christmas strike dates

Monday 5 December 2022 21:50 , Liam James

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, announced that rail workers will strike from 6pm on 24 December to 7am on 27 December, dashing hopes that any disruption over the Christmas period would be avoided by a last minute pay offer from Network Rail.

Announcing that the union would recommend its members vote against the settlement with bosses, Mr Lynch said: “We feel that we’ve been compelled to take this action due to the intransigence of the government … we’ve been faced with an extremely detrimental offer and our members simply aren’t in a position to accept the changes the companies have put on the table.”

The strikes will hit some of the final passenger trains before Christmas and possibly disrupt engineering works on the railway.

To view this content, you'll need to update your privacy settings.
Please click here to do so.

Monday 5 December 2022 20:56 , Sam Rkaina

Luke Chester, TSSA organising director, said: “This offer is the best we can achieve through negotiation, and it was undoubtedly improved because of the ballot results and strike action taken by our members, who we applaud.

“Our members will now have their say on this offer and we are suspending strike action.

“Our union is pleased that this offer provides job security and certainty for Network Rail staff through to 2025 and we’re proud to have achieved a pay offer which provides for the lowest paid in the company with significant underpinning to ensure that those hardest hit by the cost-of-living crisis receive proportionately the most.

“This offer shows what can be achieved when employers and unions are able to negotiate in good faith. It is significantly better than the offer put by the Rail Delivery Group, which we have rejected.

“On every issue – job security, pay and conditions – the RDG offer falls short and is shackled by Government interference. They need to look at what can be achieved when negotiations are not hindered and come back to the table with an improved offer that allows us to resolve this dispute once and for all.”

TSSA calls off strike action

Monday 5 December 2022 20:55 , Sam Rkaina

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) announced it was calling off strikes planned in NR for December and is putting an offer to its members.

The TSSA had been due to strike on December 17 and take other forms of industrial action from December 13.

The union had announced that an offer from the Rail Delivery Group had been rejected, meaning industrial action at train operators would go ahead in the coming weeks.

The TSSA said on Monday that after talks with NR over the weekend, it had received a “best and final offer” in writing from the company, which was considered at a meeting of its reps.

Union members will vote in the coming weeks on whether to accept the offer.

Network Rail workers to stage extra strike over Christmas

Monday 5 December 2022 20:53 , Sam Rkaina

Network Rail workers are to stage an extra strike in the long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) will walk out from 6pm on Christmas Eve until 6am on December 27 and will press ahead with two 48-hour strikes next week.

The union announced it will put the latest offer from Network Rail (NR) to its members, with a recommendation to reject.

The RMT said there had been no improved offer from the train operating companies, claiming they still awaited a mandate from the Government.

Strikes on 14 train companies will go ahead next week although talks will be held with the Rail Delivery Group on Tuesday.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said it was unfortunate that the union had been “compelled to take this action due to the continuing intransigence of the employers”.

He said: “We remain available for talks in order to resolve these issues but we will not bow to pressure from the employers and the Government to the detriment of our members.”

Shelter workers to strike over pay

Monday 5 December 2022 15:15 , Aisha Rimi

More than 600 workers at the housing and homeless charity Shelter are beginning an unprecedented fortnight of strike action on Monday in a dispute over pay.

Unite said a three per cent pay increase this year has left many of Shelter’s own staff unable to pay their rent.

The union accused the charity’s management of refusing to enter into meaningful negotiations.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “It is unforgivable that workers at Shelter find themselves actually being haunted by the prospect of being made homeless.

“Shelter has sufficient reserves to pay its hardworking and dedicated staff a decent pay rise but it has chosen not to.”

Tim Gutteridge, Shelter’s director of finance and strategy enablement, said: “Regrettably, the cost-of-living crisis is impacting both our colleagues and operational costs, and we are doing everything we can to navigate these challenging economic times.

 (PA)
(PA)

He added: “Our ambition remains trying to support colleagues through this difficult period, while being able to deliver our frontline services and campaign work.

“This year we gave all staff a pay rise - which for non-management staff means an increase of between 8% and 12.3% - consisting of a 3% consolidated increase and a one-off payment of £1,500.

“As a Real Living Wage employer, Shelter is also implementing the Real Living Wage Foundation’s increase of 10.1% from December 2022, much earlier than required, benefiting the colleagues who receive this at the earliest opportunity.

The strike action will end on Friday 16 December.

Keir Starmer opposes new laws to limit strikes

Monday 5 December 2022 14:45 , Aisha Rimi

Keir Starmer has set his face against government proposals to tighten restrictions on the right to strike as the UK braces for a winter of discontent.

The Labour leader said that new laws to limit industrial action are not “the best way forward”.

Reports suggest that prime minister Rishi Sunak is considering rushing through an anti-strikes bill in response to the threat of walkouts in the NHS, rail and postal services.

Andrew Woodcock has the full story:

Keir Starmer opposes new laws to limit strikes as UK prepares for winter of disputes

Starmer says ‘both sides’ must compromise in rail dispute

Monday 5 December 2022 14:15 , Aisha Rimi

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said “both sides need to compromise” in the ongoing rail dispute which leaves the public-facing strike disruption.

Asked what the offer to unions should be, Sir Keir told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “Both sides need to compromise, both sides need to finish the negotiations and the government needs to drive them forward.

“He added: “The government’s been sitting on its hands in this. That’s not good enough. And I think if you look at the example of Wales, you can see that with a different approach this could be resolved.”

When is the next December rail strike?

Monday 5 December 2022 13:45 , Aisha Rimi

Rail passengers in Britain are enduring the longest and most damaging series of strikes since the 1980s.

The bitter dispute involves the rail unions, the train operators and the infrastructure provider Network Rail. The first national strikes were called six months ago, and more have been called before Christmas and after New Year.

The dates for the next round of national strikes are 13-14 and 16-17 December, plus 3-4 and 6-7 January. Between the pre-Christmas and post-New Year strikes, from 18 December to 2 January, the RMT union will ban overtime.

Simon Calder has the full story:

When is the next December train strike? Everything you need to know

Every strike likely to affect the UK by the end of the year

Monday 5 December 2022 12:10 , Aisha Rimi

As inflation has climbed steadily throughout year, workers have seen rising prices eroding their earnings – just as employers have been trying to make savings or modernise working practices to cope with increasing costs.

The result? Clashes over pay, redundancies, pensions and terms and conditions.

Jane Dalton has the full list of all professions and industries for which strike dates have already been announced:

From nurses to postal workers - every strike likely to affect UK by end of 2022

Monday 5 December 2022 12:02 , Aisha Rimi

Welcome to The Independent’s live updates on all the strike action taking place across the UK in the coming weeks