Strikes misery on way despite joy at NHS deal
Britain is facing further strike chaos with an indefinite walkout by thousands of bus drivers beginning tonight and passport officials preparing for massive industrial action. Rail passengers also face further misery, with the RMT planning stoppages on March 30 and April 1 after action by 20,000 members crippled services across the country yesterday.
Industrial strife is continuing despite the Government averting further strikes in the NHS, where the RCN and Unison are recommending that their members accept a new pay offer.
Junior doctors’ leaders have also agreed to suspend industrial action in return for pay talks.
Writing in the Sunday Express, Health Secretary Steve Barclay said health workers could now focus on clearing waiting lists but warned action by junior doctors had led to the cancellation of tens of thousands of procedures and appointments.
He added: “I hope our offer for nurses, paramedics and physios demonstrates to unions representing junior doctors that the Government is willing to negotiate and find a reasonable way forward which fairly rewards NHS staff for their hard work amid the difficult economic challenges our country faces.”
Ministers are still trying to achieve a breakthrough with teaching unions in order to keep classrooms open, and Education Secretary Gillian Keegan is leading “intensive talks”.
However, bus services in the West Midlands will come to a halt from 10.30pm tonight after 3,000 Unite members employed by National Express voted for walkouts over pay.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services union – including more than 1,000 Passport Office workers – begin five weeks of action from April 3, with the Belfast office also voting to join the action.
The Home Office says that it has contingency plans in place.
Rail strikes are continuing and, as RMT general secretary Mick Lynch joined the picket line outside London’s Euston station yesterday, he warned the Government: “We need a change in attitude.”