UK strikes 2023: Which workforces are striking or threatening to strike?

Heathrow Airport has said that some passengers may face longer queues to get through security during the Easter holiday period.

Around 1,400 members of the Unite union, who are employed by Heathrow Airports Ltd (HAL), are expected to take part in the 10-day walkout beginning on March 31 and ending at 11.59pm on Easter Sunday.

The strikes involve security officers at Terminal 5, which is used exclusively by British Airways, and campus security guards who are responsible for checking all cargo that enters the airport.

The airport says contingency plans will keep flights operating. But the next few days are expected to be very busy as people go away on Easter holidays.

Workers in several industries are continuing to strike in April, including Passport Office workers who are set to strike for five weeks in a dispute over jobs, pay, and conditions.

So, which industries are affected by strikes in the coming weeks and when will staff walk out?

Airport workers

Heathrow Airport security staff are set to strike between March 31 and April 9.

Sky News reported that travellers heading through the UK’s busiest airport face “severe delays” after the more than 1,400 security staff employed by Unite announced their 10-day walkout.

Sharon Graham, the union’s general secretary, said her members were “fundamental to [the airport’s] success” and they deserved a fair pay increase.

Unite has accused the airport of a real-terms wage cut.

Heathrow said it had offered a 10 per cent pay increase backdated to January 1, plus a lump sum payment (of more than £1,000).

Sky News reported a spokesperson for Heathrow as saying the airport had “contingency plans”, which would “keep the airport open and operational despite unnecessary threats of strike action by Unite”.

Passport Office workers’ strike

Passport Office workers will strike for five weeks in an escalation of a pay row. More than 1,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union working in passport offices in England, Scotland, and Wales will walk out from April 3 to May 5.

Workers in Durham, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Newport, Peterborough, and Southport will strike from April 3 to May 5, while those in Belfast will strike from April 7 to May 5.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “They seem to think, if they ignore our members, they’ll go away. But how can our members ignore the cost-of-living crisis, when 40,000 civil servants are using food banks and 45,000 of them are claiming the benefits they administer themselves?

“It’s a national scandal and a stain on this Government’s reputation that so many of its own workforce are living in poverty.”

Are teachers planning to strike?

NEU members went on strike on March 15. The industrial action followed a major day of strikes on February 1, when half of all UK schools were at least partly closed, as well as other recent strikes.

However, strikes in Wales and Scotland have been called off while talks continue and, as of March 31, there are no strikes planned in England.

Which civil servants will be striking and why?

Civil servants at 123 Government departments and agencies took strike action on March 15. The walkout by 100,000 PCS members was an effort to exert significant pressure on the Government, the PCS said.

The PCS union’s action followed a failure to meet its demand for a 10 per cent pay rise, better pensions, job security, and no cuts to redundancy terms. It affected all Government arms, including Ofsted, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, and Border Force.

The PCS has also confirmed that more than 700 of its members at the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) call centre in Swansea will stage a walkout on April 11 and April 12. The union said that the strike will likely cause disruptions to those making enquiries about their driving licences.

More than 1,600 Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) staff staged a series of walkouts across England, Scotland, and Wales until March 28.

Junior doctors’ strike

Junior doctors in England will escalate their strike action with a four-day walkout in April, the British Medical Association (BMA) has announced.

The BMA confirmed on Thursday (March 30) that junior doctor members would walk out for 96 hours, from 7am on April 11, in a bitter dispute over pay.

The April strike is the most significant industrial action called by any health union so far. It is a blow to Health Secretary Steve Barclay’s hope of ending industrial action in the NHS by the spring.

It comes only days after the BMA agreed to “intensive talks” on pay with Mr Barclay, raising hopes that further strikes could be avoided.

Amazon workers

As reported by Sky News, striking Amazon workers said they would intensify industrial action following an “insulting” new pay rise. Amazon announced that it would increase the minimum starting salary of its UK workforce by at least 50p to between £11 and £12 per hour from April.

The company said the exact amount would vary depending on location.

Sky News said the increase followed several strikes by Amazon warehouse staff in Coventry since January, with GMB members in the West Midlands calling for at least £15 an hour to help with the cost-of-living crisis.

Amazon previously increased base pay by 50p to a minimum of between £10.50 and £11.45 per hour last year and said, over the past seven months, it had gone up by 10 per cent.

But Amanda Gearing, GMB senior organiser, said: “We’re listening to Amazon workers and the message is very clear: this new pay rate is an insult.

“So, in response, we will be consulting over the next few days and announcing a new wave of action.”

Amazon workers in the UK first took strike action on January 25. They asked for higher pay and have also complained of overbearing management practices and long hours, the Guardian reported.

An Amazon spokesperson said: “Over the past seven months, our minimum starting pay has risen by 10 per cent and by more than 37 per cent since 2018. We also work hard to provide great benefits, a positive work environment, and excellent career opportunities.

“These are just some of the reasons people want to come and work at Amazon, whether it’s their first job, a seasonal role, or an opportunity for them to advance their career.”

The future of rail and Tube strikes

London Underground drivers went on strike on Budget Day, March 15, in a dispute over pensions and working conditions. Train drivers’ union Aslef said 99 per cent of its members voted in favour of the 24-hour strike.

Network Rail workers have voted to accept a new pay offer and train operator employees have suspended strikes on March 30 and April 1 while they consider a revised offer.

Rail workers’ strikes have been taking place for months, leaving many people unable to get to work and significantly affecting businesses. Unions are in conflict with the Government and rail companies over wages, job losses, and terms and conditions modifications.

They say any compensation offer should take the rising cost of living into account – with inflation now at more than 10 per cent. But, due to the pandemic’s financial impact, the rail sector is under pressure to make savings.

Bosses say reforms need to be agreed upon so that pay increases can be afforded and the railway modernised.