Employment

Food delivery riders to TfL drivers: The strikes you should know about this winter

There have been reports of a winter of discontent this year as workers demand improved deals. These are the strikes and potential walkouts this month and next.

Strikes are spreading to different cities for week two in the UK's longest gig economy industrial action Image: IWGB

After two years of pay-freezes, deteriorating working conditions, or changes to working arrangements caused by attempts to adapt to the pandemic, many workers have had enough. 

Hundreds of thousands of people across the UK are either involved in or balloting for strike action to take place over the Christmas period and into the new year. 

It can be hard to keep on top of all the industrial action happening at the moment, so let The Big Issue break it down. Here are the walkouts you should know about.

Food delivery drivers including JustEat

Food delivery couriers, including those who deliver for JustEat, are in their second week of strike action in Sheffield. Strikes are also due to start in Chesterfield, Rotherham and Huddersfield. 

The drivers from the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) are demanding courier service Stuart cancels a planned pay cut of nearly 25 per cent.

Stuart, which is sub-contracted by Just Eat, has reportedly slashed pay on most deliveries from £4.50 to £3.40 this month as part of a new pay structure. The strikes have led to branches of McDonald’s in Sheffield having to stop taking orders.

The strike has been called “the biggest continuous gig economy strike in UK history” by Ian Byrne, Labour MP for Liverpool West Derby, who is supporting the strike fund set up by the IWGB to help the striking drivers. 

Stuart has been contacted for comment.

London’s TfL tube strike

In London, members of union RMT are striking at weekends in the run-up to Christmas over new staffing timetables for the Night Tube. The weekend overnight service was introduced in 2016 but was stopped last year during the pandemic and has not yet resumed. 

The union claims that under the previous agreement drivers could choose whether to work on night services, whereas the transport authority is now saying that drivers should work four nights a year.

For the fourth weekend, drivers will go on strike on the evening and night of Friday December 17, affecting the Central and Victoria lines, and all day on Saturday December 18 until 04:29 the next day, affecting the Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria lines.

Bin workers

Coventry is braced for Christmas bin strikes after members of Unite, voted for industrial action in a dispute concerning pay and Christmas working arrangements.

Four days of strike beginning on Tuesday December 21 ending on Christmas Eve, then again on January 5 and 6, and finally four days from January 11 to 14 January are planned. 

NHS hospitals

Hundreds of key NHS workers, employed by the giant outsourcing company, Serco, have voted for strike action across Barts Health NHS Trust, based in east London. 

A huge 97 per cent voted in favour of industrial action to combat low pay and exploitation. Unless there is an agreement on pay and conditions, strikes will be set for January 2022.

“Unite will be unwavering in our support of these union members and unless Barts and Serco put an end to their low pay and exploitation there will be strike action in January,” said Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary. 

“It’s time to take note of the strength of feeling of these NHS workers, who are being left in limbo as Barts and Serco prevaricate and pass the buck on their demands for a decent wage. 

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Tesco

One of two threatened strikes at Tesco has been called off after the supermarket offered a bigger pay increase, but another one is poised to start on December 20 at nine Tesco distribution centres.

The 5,000 members of the Usdaw union at depots in Daventry, Peterborough, Hinckley and Lichfield in central England, Goole in northern England, Southampton in southern England, Livingston in Scotland and Magor in Wales will strike for four days until Christmas Eve  – unless an agreement can be reached. 

Public sector workers including local government

UNISON members are balloting for a potentially massive strike which would see local government members working in councils and schools withdrawing their labour. 

Public sector workers have been offered a 1.75 per cent pay rise, despite years of real-terms pay cuts. The unions are instead calling for a 10 per cent rise.

Almost four in five members of the union ballotted in the first indicative ballot voted to reject the pay offer and move to ballot for strike, suggesting that the industrial action might go ahead.

The vote closes on January 14.  

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