Royal Mail workers, university lecturers and sixth-form college staff will walk out on strike today in a dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.
The fresh wave of industrial action on Wednesday 30 November marks one of the biggest walkouts on the same day and will see picket lines mounted outside universities, colleges and Royal Mail centres, with further strikes planned in the run-up to Christmas.
Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) are planning seven more strikes in December, including Christmas Eve, and said its members will be in London on 9 December for the “biggest strike demonstration this country has ever seen”.
A CWU spokesperson said previously: “The CWU want a negotiated settlement with Royal Mail Group and will continue to engage the company to that end. But those in charge of Royal Mail need to wake up and realise we won’t allow them to destroy the livelihoods of postal workers.”
The strike action follows previous walkouts in August, September, October and early November. Royal Mail has warned that services could be disrupted in the coming weeks and said it is doing “all we can to minimise any delays”. The walkouts follow a recent ballot for strike action which saw around 115,000 of CWU members vote to take action to fight for a “dignified, proper pay rise”.
National Education Union (NEU) teacher members, who work in 77 sixth-form colleges in England, are also striking in a dispute over pay. The union said teachers working in sixth-form colleges have suffered a real-terms pay cut of an estimated 20% since 2010, and a ballot showed huge support for industrial action.
Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “Members take strike action with great reluctance, but the effects of real-terms pay losses are simply too urgent for them to endure the situation any longer.
“These cuts are driving an exodus from the profession whilst providing little incentive to those seeking a career in teaching. The overwhelming majority of teachers in sixth-form colleges will receive a 5% pay rise this year, which simply doesn’t deal with the effects of inflation.
“The government is failing to act to protect the pay and living standards of our members, and it is in the gift of the Education Secretary to make that change. The message from members on this strike day is that she must do so urgently.”
Elsewhere, the University and College Union (UCU) is following up a 48-hour strike last week with a 24-hour stoppage among university staff and is holding a rally in London. On Wednesday, UCU members at 150 universities will go on strike.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “University staff are prepared to do whatever it takes to win decent pay, secure employment and fair pensions, and vice chancellors need to understand that they cannot simply ride this out. Students and staff are united like never before.
“At the national rally in London, the entire movement will show it is behind UCU’s campaign to save higher education. It is clear those who run our universities are becoming increasingly isolated.
“Our union is ready to deliver more industrial action next year, but avoiding that is entirely the responsibility of employers who have this week to make an improved offer. The ball is in their court.”
UCU members at the University of Sheffield International College are also on strike for three days, ending on Wednesday, in a long-running dispute over low pay. The union says the action is the first-ever strike to take place in a privatised higher education provider.
Meanwhile, members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union at Network Rail and 14 train operators are planning four 48-hour strikes on 13-14 and 16-17 December, and 3-4 and 6-7 January January, plus an overtime ban over Christmas which will cripple services.
The union’s general secretary Mick Lynch held talks with the Transport Secretary last week but there has been no breakthrough in the long-running dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.