New strike warning as teachers and NHS threaten action in autumn

People protest again against the cost of living crisis

Thousands of people marched through central London yesterday demanding government action to tackle the cost of living crisis (Image: Getty)

Teachers and NHS workers are threatening to strike over pay amid fears of another “winter of discontent” later this year.

As England prepares for it ‘The biggest rail strike in modern history’ Next week, unions representing health and education workers warned of possible industrial action in the fall.

The National Education Union (NEU) has announced it is preparing to hold a vote among its 450,000 members, which could trigger strikes in schools across the country.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary, told the Observer that the NEU would vote its members to gauge reactions unless the government bid “significantly” more than the 3% that Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi proposed earlier this year.

“Unless there is a significant improvement from 3% – which will leave an 8% gap to inflation this year alone – we cannot avoid a vote,” he said.

“The atmosphere among the teachers has changed. Last year it was mainly about the workload. This year it’s workload and pay.

“Teachers do calculations to see what their hourly wages are. The pay is already 20% lower than in 2010.”

A warning of industrial action at London’s Westminster underground station (Image: PA)

NASUWT, another teachers’ union, also warned that it would be electing members on labor disputes in England, Scotland and Wales from November.

Millions of healthcare workers will soon be receiving their annual salary offer and it is feared it will lag behind inflation, which currently stands at 9.2%.

Unison, the largest union representing NHS workers, stressed the wage offer could lead to a mass exodus of workers, coupled with industrial action in already overburdened hospitals.

Its secretary-general, Christina McAnea, said: “The government has an easy choice. Either it makes reasonable compensation, invests in staff and services, and reduces delays for patients.

“Or it risks possible litigation, increasing labor shortages and more suffering for the sick.”

It comes as half of Britain’s rail routes will be completely closed during next week’s strikes.

With no breakthrough in wage negotiations, the industrial dispute is expected to wreak havoc between June 20-26.

Thousands of people marched through central London yesterday demanding action to tackle the cost of living crisis, including NHS workers.

Banners reading “Shorten the war, not welfare” and “End fuel poverty, isolate homes now” were carried by protesters.

Others read “Nurses not nuclear weapons” and “Don’t get angry, take action”.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps accused the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers’ Union (RMT) bosses of “shooting down” industrial action that will inconvenience millions of people across the country.

He told Sky News this morning: “It’s a big mistake. The unions have been firing on this strike all along. This strike is totally unnecessary.

“It will inconvenience millions of people – students taking their GCSEs and A levels, people trying to get to hospitals to try and do surgeries that may have been postponed during the coronavirus.

“It’s catastrophic. It’s not a way to behave on the track. There’s no benefit in that.’

The MP later told the BBC on Sunday morning that the move would cost between £100million and £150million a week.

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Justin Scacco

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