Towards the end of 2022, the UK experienced several rail strikes happening throughout the nation. With rising inflation, railway workers have conducted these strikes to achieve better job security and wage growth. Along with railway workers, nurses, airport staff and postal workers also went on industrial action in December 2022.
Now in January 2023, rail strikes continue with National Rail announcing that there will be industrial action in the first week – including 6 and 7 January 2023. Many organisations have made their staff aware of the strikes and expect delays or disruption with their work, urging some staff to work from home if possible. Universities such as University College London (UCL) have notified their staff and students of the rail strikes happening this month.
However, businesses in some industries are more affected by the strikes than others. Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality has admitted that the rail strikes that have been occurring since mid-2022 have caused losses of £2.5 billion for the hospitality industry. Back in November 2022, UKHospitality predicted that the continued rail strikes will significantly impact the hospitality sector – causing drops in sales for venues and restricting staff from coming to work.
Why the Prolonged Strikes?
The seemingly never-ending rail strikes that have been going on since 2022 continue to strive for better working conditions and pay. With the current cost-of-living crisis, many have dubbed this current economic state as the new “winter of discontent”. Across the nation, many have been fighting for pay rises to match the inflation rates as they continue to struggle to afford their needs.
Unfortunately, demands continue to be unmet and negotiations are stalled. A spokesperson for the Department of Transport told Al Jazeera News that matching pay increases to inflation for public sector workers would cause more long-term issues and will worsen the economy in the long run.
The RMT union continues to wait to hear a proposal from the government on what they can offer to meet their demands. It is known that the government have called union leaders to continue negotiation as they recognize that this has caused significant losses for businesses in the hospitality sector.
Additionally, many have expressed the struggles that come from the rail strikes. It is known that the troubles faced by workers to get into work have affected their pay for some, particularly those on a zero-hour contract. Ticket prices have also surged recently, costing more commuters on top of the disruption.
Will There be an End Soon?
The prolonged strikes have caused many disruptions in various sectors and industries, and many are wondering if an end to the industrial action is near. Unfortunately, the RMT union has warned that the latest walkouts that began this past Tuesday were the beginning of a series of actions that can last until May, with possibilities to go further.
However, there have been speculations of a deal happening between the parties involved soon. Although there are no guarantees or confirmation as of this moment.