National Highways workers will go on strike from Thursday until Christmas Day in the latest phase of industrial action to demand better pay.
The four-day strike involves members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) - the biggest civil service union - working as on-road traffic officers and regional operating centre operatives in London and south-east England.
The latest walkout by workers who plan, design, build, operate and maintain the roads follows action by colleagues in Yorkshire and Humber, north-west and north-east England.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “We’re aware our action is likely to inconvenience travellers but, even as we escalate it ahead of Christmas, we remind people this dispute could be resolved today if the government puts more money on the table.
“Our members are telling us they have to cut back their spending at Christmas time because they are running out of money. They have been offered a below-inflation pay award, at a time when inflation is higher than 10%.”
National Highways has insisted it has “comprehensive plans in place to minimise any potential disruption”, including sharing resources between control centres to assist with call handling and setting signs and signals. It also said it will ensure almost 98% of its network is fully open from 6am from 20 December until the end of 2 January by either completing or lifting roadworks.
The full list of National Highways traffic officer service employees strike dates is as follows:
- London and South East 22, 23, 24, 25 December, 3, 4 January
- West Midlands and South West 30, 31 December, 3, 4 January
- East Midlands and East of England 3, 4, 6, 7 January
The strike action on Thursday (22 December) comes at the same time that Unite members working for Highlands and Islands Airports will stage another strike, and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) strike continues in the North West, Yorkshire and Humber and North Wales.
Further travel disruption is also on the way later this week as members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport workers union (RMT) is set to stage more walkouts from 24 to 27 December.
More strike action to come
The National Highways strikes will escalate further on at the end of this month when PCS members across the traffic officer service in the West Midlands and south-west England begin action on 30 December. This will be followed by further action on 6 January when the strike action reaches the East Midlands and eastern England. In addition, all PCS members in National Highways, working for the traffic officer service, will take action on 3 and 4 January.
PCS has also served formal notice on the Department for Work and Pensions of extended strike action in parts of the department in the first week of January as part of its national campaign.
Benefit processing members in Doncaster Crossgate House, a threatened closure site, have been on strike since Monday (19 December) and are joined on Thursday by the rest of the PCS members at the site.
All PCS members in the building will now take strike action during the first week in January. Action by PCS members in Toxteth, City and Duke Street jobcentres in Liverpool will be extended to 7 January, the union announced.