June 4, 2023

Britain is facing a wave of coordinated industrial action by strike unions this autumn to protest the escalating cost of living crisis, observer can be disclosed.

A series of motions by the country’s largest unions ahead of next month’s TUC conference call for them to work closely together to maximise impact and “win” the fight against inflation-related pay rises.

The move includes two of the biggest unions, Unison and Unite, which have drawn growing anger over the government’s failure to agree on a detailed help package for households after announcing on Friday that average gas and electricity bills would rise by 80 per cent.

While the coordinated action will not resemble the “general strike” proposed by some union leaders, Unite’s motion would give the TUC the task of ensuring strikes are synchronized or deliberately staggered for maximum impact.

Backed by the railroad union RMT, which has led its members through a series of strikes in recent weeks, and the Communications Workers’ Union, which took action on Friday, Unite called on the TUC to “promote and encourage industry coordination between unions so that workers can be at their best when disputes arise.” Use their union power effectively to win.”

A separate motion from Unison, the country’s largest union, called the cost of living crisis a “low pay crisis” and asked the TUC to coordinate union action to fight for increased wages “at least in line with inflation” – now 10.1%. salary. and a minimum wage of £15 an hour.

The signs of unrest underscore the magnitude of the problems now facing the next Conservative prime minister, Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak, as soaring energy costs push inflation further up. Union belligerence will also put Labour leader Keir Starmer in a tough spot. He recently called on his frontbenchers not to support a rail strike.

Starmer, whose party receives most of its funding from unions, will deliver his first speech at the union convention in person as leader. Opening September 11 in Brighton.

Unite secretary Sharon Graham, whose 1,900 dockworker members have been shut down for eight days at Felixstowe, the country’s largest port, cited the ongoing rail dispute as an example, saying, It is “critical” for RMT to win the dispute.

“If we’re going to strike on the bus, why don’t we coordinate these two things?” she told observer“You want to make sure we provide as much support as possible. Now, that’s the job of the TUC to see you do that.”

Graham made it clear that she was not talking about illegal secondary actions — one union didn’t dispute in favor of another — but coordination among unions whose members voted to strike in a separate pay dispute.

In her own multi-sector union, Felixstowe and Liverpool Docks are both entitled to strike action over separate wage claims, most likely simultaneously, she said. “If it helps them both strike together, why don’t you?”

Ministers will be shocked by the extent of potential strike action reflected in the TUC motion.

In response to the government’s plan to cut 91,000 civil service jobs, the First Division Association, which represents senior civil servants, called on the next prime minister to abandon the “destructive practice of arbitrary redundancies”, while the Public and Business Services Union called on the TUC to “support industrial action aimed at preventing layoffs” , and, where possible, coordinate such action with other contested unions.”

More than 50,000 school support staff will be voted by the GMB union on whether to accept a £1,925 pay rise from local government employers as the unrest spreads. The GMB is also voting on more than 100,000 local government workers over their pay agreement, while the Royal College of Nursing is preparing to consult its members on whether they are prepared to take strike action.

Senior government sources said Truss, who could win the Conservative leadership race, will be ready to draw up an emergency budget “soon” after the winner is announced on September 5 and take steps to help people with energy costs.

While Truss has said on the campaign that her priority is tax cuts, not “handouts,” she has also made it clear in recent days that she will help those most in need – without specifying how this will be what is involved.

Environment Minister George Eustice said yesterday that people “won’t be waiting too long”, but added that both Truss and Sunak “want to consider all options, with appropriate costs in mind” .

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