From education to employment

TUC warns wave of strike action will continue in 2023 unless ministers come back to the table for “meaningful talks”

strike sign
  • “Ministers must stop sabotaging efforts to reach settlements”, TUC warns
  • TUC head says workers “have been pushed to breaking point”

Following a meeting of unions today (Monday), the TUC has warned the wave of strike action Britain is experiencing will continue into 2023 unless the government changes tack and commits to meaningful pay talks with unions.

The union body has accused the government of refusing to engage in good faith on pay, stonewalling negotiations and hiding behind pay review bodies.

Workers across the public sector, in health and the civil service are taking industrial action. In education, workers are balloting on strike action – with the results due early next year.

The TUC says it will be working with its affiliated unions to “step up” its campaigning on public sector pay – and get a fair pay deal for all workers.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“Nobody goes on strike lightly. But working people have been pushed to breaking point.

“Millions of key workers across the public sector have endured more than a decade of pay cuts. And across Britain, working families are suffering the longest and harshest wage squeeze in more than 200 years.

“That’s why this wave of strike action will continue into 2023 – unless ministers do the right thing and engage in meaningful pay talks with unions.

“For too long, ministers have been stonewalling negotiations and hiding behind pay review bodies. They are more interested in playing political football with disputes than resolving them.

“Unions stand ready to meet and find a solution. But the Conservatives must stop sabotaging efforts to reach settlements. If we see more industrial action, it is because of their intransigence. Instead the government must come to the table and negotiate.”

On the “political choice” the government is making, Frances said:

“The government should be rewarding work – not wealth. But instead, ministers are holding down public sector key worker pay and at the same time giving bankers unlimited bonuses. This is a political choice.

“The Tories crashed the economy – and now they are marching the country into recession and making working people take the hit.

On the staffing crisis in the public sector, Frances added:

“If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that we need great public services. But there is a crisis in our NHS, schools and all our public services – caused by 12 years of Tory cuts and more than 100,000 unfilled vacancies.

“Experienced, dedicated staff are being forced to leave – and not being replaced. That is why public services are falling apart. The way to fix it is to give workers the pay rise they have earned – both to retain existing staff and to attract more.”

New TUC analysis published today shows that UK workers are currently enduring the longest pay squeeze in more than 200 years – with average pay still worth £85 a month less than in 2008.

And in the public sector average pay is still down by £204 a month in real terms compared to 2008.

Around one third of key workers in the public sector (32%) have already taken steps to leave their profession to get a job in another field or are actively considering it, TUC polling published in October revealed.

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