Union boss Mick Lynch has called for a year of co-ordinated strikes across the economy to force a redistribution of wealth and ‘redress the balance in society’.
The head of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union made a speech yesterday as he joined striking Royal Mail staff on the picket line.
Addressing workers at a rally, Mr Lynch said ‘the billionaires, the millionaires, the shareholders and the big corporations’ were making working people foot the bill for Britain’s societal woes.
He added: ‘We need a summer of solidarity, and a spring of solidarity if it needs to go through next year.
‘The CWU, Unite, GMB, RMT and the others, we have to call on the entire movement […] to come into this action, to get members motivated and call them to the flag and vote yes for a wave of industrial action across the UK and internationally if that is what it takes, because we need to redress the balance in society.
‘And not be dictated to by people from Eton and Harrow, telling us we have to give up our wages and give up our place. We are not going to have it.’
Union boss Mick Lynch (pictured at a rally on the first day of Royal Mail workers strike) has called for a year of co-ordinated strikes across the economy to force a redistribution of wealth and ‘redress the balance in society’
Communication Workers Union (CWU) members and supporters rally outside Mount Pleasant Mail Center on the first day of Royal Mail workers strike
Who else is set to join the summer strike contagion?
Strikes could spread across the economy in the coming months. These are the areas affected – and those which could be hit – and the unions behind the ballots.
Strikes by the RMT this month followed several other days of action earlier in the year, as half the country’s rail network was closed and service was reduced to a fifth of normal levels.
They were joined by workers from the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) and the train drivers’ union Aslef, which took action at Greater Anglia and the Croydon Tramlink.
Train drivers at Chiltern, Northern, TransPennine Express and London Tramlink have all also voted to go on strike – spelling more misery for commuters across England.
A strike by British Airways was threatened, but was called off last month after an improved pay offer was made.
Teachers’ union NAS/UWT will ballot members over action unless the Government backs demands for a 12 per cent pay rise. A pay award for 2022/23 is due in November.
The National Education Union has said it will ballot its 460,000 members if a pay rise in line with inflation is not offered by the Government.
Unison, which represents NHS staff, has said strikes are possible unless the annual pay offer for them is not close to the rate of inflation. The British Medical Association, which represents doctors, has also said it will prepare for a ballot unless junior doctors are given a 22 per cent ‘restorative’ pay rise.
The Royal College of Nursing has also demanded a pay rise of 5 per cent above inflation.
The Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents civil service workers, will hold a ballot in September over pay, pensions and redundancies.
The Unison, GMB and Unite unions have said local government staff in England, Wales and Northern Ireland should receive a pay increase of at least £2,000 each. Workers include rubbish collectors, library staff, teaching assistants and care workers.
Unite said it will support ‘any action’ by workers to achieve a pay rise.
Royal Mail staff walked out yesterday and will again on August 31, September 8 and September 9 after being balloted by the Communication Workers Union.
The union has also sent ballot papers to BT workers including engineers, contact centre staff and retail employees over pay. It could result in the first strike at the company since it was privatised in the mid-1980s.
More than 100,000 Royal Mail workers walked out on Friday after rejecting a 5.5 per cent pay rise offer, and will do so again on August 31, September 8 and September 9 after 97.6% of members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) voted in favour of industrial action.
Letters will not be delivered and some parcels will be delayed in what is being described as the biggest strike of the summer so far.
The union also has a mandate to continue action for six months, meaning the strikes could drag on until January, affecting the crucial Christmas trading period as well as the busy Black Friday weekend.
Dave Ward, general secretary of the CWU, said yesterday: ‘There can be no doubt that postal workers are completely united in their determination to secure the dignified, proper pay rise they deserve.
‘We can’t keep on living in a country where bosses rake in billions in profit while their employees are forced to use food banks.’
He condemned Royal Mail’s adjusted operating profit in the year ending March 2022 of £758million and its decision last November to hand shareholders £400million in dividends.
Royal Mail said it has contingency plans in place to minimise disruption and will prioritise the delivery of medical prescriptions, Special Delivery and Tracked 24 parcels on strike days.
But it said that items posted the day before a strike, the day of, or on the days after might be disrupted and the company advised customers to send parcels and letters as early as possible.
It is the latest in a string of protests across the country this summer, with bin strikes currently taking place in more than 20 council areas in Scotland and strikes planned over the August bank holiday on buses operated by London United.
It comes after the RMT oversaw widespread strikes on the rail network this month and earlier in the year, which ground the country to a halt.
It emerged this week that train drivers at Chiltern, Northern, TransPennine Express and London Tramlink have all voted to go on strike – spelling more misery for commuters across England.
Members of the Aslef union will walkout of their jobs as part of a long-running dispute over pay and conditions, it was announced this afternoon.
The union said the results of the votes, which were overwhelmingly in favour of the strikes, shows ‘just how angry our members are’.
No date has been set yet for the strikes on the Chiltern, Northern and TransPennine Express routes.
Drivers and other union members will hold industrial action on London Tramlink, which is based in Croydon, on September 12.
It is likely to spell more misery for commuters trying to get to work, who have already faced multiple strikes over the last few months as unions call for pay increases and safeguards to conditions and pensions.