Royal Mail staff, university lecturers and teachers are on strike as labor unrest spreads across the country over pay, job and benefits disputes.
Picket lines are forming outside mail delivery and sorting offices, universities and schools as unions move closer to coordinated industrial action.
This will be one of the biggest strikes of the year.
Talks have been held between the leaders of the unions involved in the dispute with the aim of taking joint action, such as striking on the same day.
Some 70,000 members of the University and College Union (UCU) will go on strike on Thursday, Friday and Wednesday, November 30 in a dispute over wages, pensions and contracts.
It will be the largest strike of its kind, affecting an estimated 2.5 million students. The union warns that the action will intensify in the new year if the dispute is not resolved.
The union says teachers and other academic staff have faced low-inflation wage increases for a decade, with a 3% increase announced in the summer.
UCU general secretary Joe Grady said: “University staff are waging the largest strike in higher education history. They are fed up with falling wages, pension cuts and gig economy working conditions – while Vice Chancellors win the lottery. Enjoy the salary and live it in the mansion of your grace and favour.
“The workers are burned out, but they are fighting back and they will bring the whole industry to a standstill.
“The Vice-Chancellors have only themselves to blame. Their pathetic leadership has led to the largest ever strike vote in our region.
“Students stand with the staff because they know this cannot continue, and they know that an industry that earns billions of euros in tuition fees every year can afford to treat its staff fairly.
“Further disruptions can be avoided if staff concerns are addressed quickly. But the overpaid vice-chancellors plaguing our industry have no illusions: 70,000 dedicated university employees are ready to take even bigger action in the new year.
Chloe Field, vice president of the National Students’ Union of Higher Education, said: “Students stand in solidarity with the university staff striking.
“It has always been clear to us that workers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions, and for more than a decade, both have been attacked by an industry that puts profit before education.”
Members of the Communications Workers’ Union (CWU) at Royal Mail will also strike on Thursday and Black Friday, one of the busiest days of the year for delivery companies.
A series of strikes are also planned for December, including Christmas Eve, one of the longest-running disputes in a year dominated by work stoppages.
Royal Mail said it had made its “best and final offer” to resolve the dispute, including “significant improvements” made during negotiations with the CWU, such as an increase of up to 9% over 18 months. Salary agreement, offer to develop new profit-sharing scheme for employees and make conditions for voluntary redundancy more liberal.
CWU general secretary Dave Ward said: “We are disappointed that Royal Mail has chosen to pursue such aggressive tactics, rather than compromise to avoid major disruption.
“We will not accept that 115,000 Royal Mail employees – the people who have kept us engaged during the pandemic and generated millions in profits for owners and shareholders – have suffered such a devastating blow to their livelihoods.
“These proposals mark the end of Royal Mail as we know it, in its decline from a national institution to an unrelenting Uber-style gig economy company.
“Make no mistake, British postmen are facing an Armageddon moment.
“We urge every member of the public to stay at their posts and return them as they were before.”
Members of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) will walk out on Thursday in the first national strike over pay in nearly 40 years, with actions by teachers expected to close most schools in Scotland.
In a final bid made on Tuesday to stave off strike action, the lowest-paid workers would get a 6.85% raise and most a 5% raise.
This was rejected by the EIS, with its secretary-general, Andrea Bradley, labeling it an “inadequate rehearsal” of a proposal made earlier in the year.
Meanwhile, Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, will meet with transport secretary Mark Harper ahead of another round of train strikes planned to paralyze services across the country over the holiday season. to lay.
Mr Harper said he hoped for a “sensible dialogue” with the RMT but did not want to hold any talks with the union, adding: “It is very clear to the unions and employers – Network Rail and train operators.
“But I think it is important to discuss this with the unions. These strikes aren’t just about wages, it’s about long-term talks that are really about pushing through rail reform.”