A general strike is becoming “increasingly likely” as the UK enters 2023, with unions united by a common goal. An expert has warned that, while one is not “inevitable”, British workers are seeking a solution to the burn of inflation. Demoralized staffers have found solace in strikes and are heaping pressure on the government.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Louise Stewart, a communications and government relations expert and Partner at Penta Group, predicted disruption would continue to bleed across several industries this year.
She said that workers and their unions have different hopes across sectors, but they share “fundamental” issues with the economy and government.
Ms Stewart said: “It’s not inevitable, but as different unions seek to exert maximum pressure on the Government, it looks increasingly likely.
“While each union and profession has its own individual concerns, the fundamental issue for many of them is the same: pay hasn’t kept up with inflation, and years of underinvestment – whether in the health service, trains or schools – has left staff demoralized and services failing.”
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“Last month, YouGov found that while 66 percent of the public support striking nurses, almost 50 percent oppose rail strikes.
“So nursing unions may prefer to avoid a general strike, if they can secure a better deal for their members.”
Ultimately, public support can prove “fickle” and tends to ride on “personal factors”.
In this case, unions may wish for a “safety in numbers” strategy.
Ms Stewart said: “The support for striking teachers may be influenced by how many school-going children you may have to provide childcare for at short notice.
She added: “If strikes drag on, the public will want a resolution.
“And in trying to convince the public that their grievances justify strike action, the unions may well seek safety in numbers.”
Trade unions are reportedly considering the safety-in-numbers approach in a coordinated “day of action”.
Plans from unions representing staff in the NHS, civil service, railways and education at the Trades Union Congress (TUC) could include “synchronised” strike action.
Existing fury over new anti-strike laws has led union chiefs to consider working together and holding rallies on a “protect the right to strike” day on February 1.
But there is no indication whether they plan to enact coordinated walkouts, with chiefs insisting they would not constitute a general strike.
Labor and unions have condemned plans for “statutory minimum service levels”, claiming they would exacerbate disputes.