As industrial disputes rage across the UK, the TUC’s new leader has called for an emergency meeting with the prime minister to try to break deadlocks.
There has been chaos across the country as rail workers, nurses, Border Force and Royal Mail staff have all held strikes as various rows over pay and working conditions show little signs of being resolved.
TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak has written a scathing letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak saying public services were in crisis after years of “underfunding and understaffing,” and he called for a complete shift in government policy.
He criticises ministers’ refusal to negotiate pay and calls for “open and constructive” talks to begin.
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Mr. Nowak’s request comes as rail workers continue a 48-hour strike, with more walkouts planned in the transportation and civil service industries this month.
Just before Christmas, thousands of nurses across launched the largest-ever walkout in the history of the NHS, and more strikes are expected.
Mr. Nowak said: “Every month experienced employees are quitting, with one in three public service staff now taking steps to leave their professions or actively considering it.
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“This is simply unsustainable. But we cannot fix the staffing crisis in our schools, hospitals and elsewhere if we do not fix the underlying causes.
“That means talking in an open and constructive way about improving public sector pay. But so far your ministers have refused to negotiate directly about pay with unions.”
Mr. Nowak said unions worked alongside Mr. Sunak during the pandemic – when he was Chancellor – to bring the furlough scheme and defend millions of jobs, adding: “That’s the kind of mature approach we need now.
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“Unions have already made clear their willingness to sit down with the government and talk about boosting pay. But while your ministers continue to refuse point-blank to discuss improving wages, there can be no resolution.
“We want to find a resolution to the current disputes, so our public service staff can get on with doing the jobs they love. And so our public services can start to improve for everyone who relies on them.”
Tens of thousands of employees at Network Rail and train operators are striking for the second day in a row; another strike is scheduled to start on Friday. As a result, almost half of Britain’s railway lines are down and barely a fifth of services are in operation.
This led to huge amounts of people having to work from home on the first day back after the Christmas break.
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In London, the South East, South Wales, and the South West, the DVSA driving examiners’ strike begins today, and the National Highways traffic officer service employees’ walkout is also continuing.
The first of several actions planned by the organisation for the month of January will be a two-day walkout by Abellio’s London bus workers.
Following their strike before Christmas, ambulance workers are scheduled to strike once more on January 11 and 23, while nurses will strike once more on January 18 and 19.
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The 10th and 11th of January, as well as 16 additional days stretching into February, are scheduled for walkouts by members of the EIS, Scotland’s largest teaching union, and two other unions.
Source: Sky News
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