Fresh wave of strike dates announced for the autumn

Workers at Felixstowe port and dozens of further education colleges are set to walk out

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More disruption is set to hit the UK economy this autumn as trade unions have announced a fresh set of strike dates. This follows a summer in which workers walked out across the country in a range of disputes over pay, jobs and conditions.

Felixstowe port

Unite has announced that workers will be on strike for eight days at Felixstowe port in an ongoing pay dispute. The union claims that management at the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company (FDRC) ended pay talks last week after refusing to improve its pay offer. FDRC is owned by multinational port operator CK Hutchison.

Currently, FDRC is offering workers a 7 per cent pay increase. Unite says this is a real terms pay cut with inflation running at over 10 per cent.

Unite represents 1,900 workers at the port, 82 per cent of which voted to reject the pay offer on a 78 per cent turnout.

Workers will now walk out from 27 September to 5 October.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Felixstowe and CK Hutchison are both eye-wateringly wealthy but rather than offer a fair pay offer, they have instead attempted to impose a real terms pay cut on their workers. “Since the beginning of this dispute Unite has given its total support to its members at Felixstowe and that will continue until this dispute is resolved.”

The new strike dates follow workers taking eight days of strike action in August.

Further education colleges

Staff at 26 further education colleges are planning on taking ten days of strike action in September and October in another dispute over pay. The workers are seeking a pay rise that addresses the cost of living crisis.

The UCU confirmed plans for the strike action on Monday September 12, and claim the dispute will see the biggest set of strikes ever taking place in further education.

UCU members will walk out on 26, 27 and 28 September, as well as on 6, 7, 10, 11, 18, 19 and 20 October.

UCU claims that pay in further education has fallen behind inflation by 35% since 2009. In June, the employer representative the Association of Colleges made a pay recommendation of 2.5% – well below the rate of inflation.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “College staff are set to take unprecedented strike action because they cannot go on being paid so little. Inflation is soaring and college bosses have more money at their disposal than they have had in years, yet they are refusing to protect their staff from the cost-of-living crisis.

“College staff deliver excellent education but over the last twelve years their pay has fallen behind inflation by 35% and now thousands are skipping meals, restricting energy use and considering leaving the sector altogether. College leaders need to wake up to this crisis, stop dining off the goodwill of their workforce and make a serious pay offer. Failure to do so will lead to the largest strike action that English further education has ever seen.”

Ongoing industrial action

These two new announcements of strike action come in the context of a series of major disputes rumbling on throughout the country. Rail workers represented by RMT, ASLEF and TSSA remained in dispute with their employers on a range of issues relating to pay, job protections and conditions. Similarly, the CWU dispute at Royal Mail has not been resolved.

Unions representing rail and postal workers called off planned strike action following the death of the Queen. The National Union of Journalists also called off strikes it had planned at Reach plc titles – including the Daily Mirror. It is likely that new strike dates will be announced in these sectors in the coming weeks.

The CWU has since announced that its members at Royal Mail will be on strike on September 30 and October 1.

Criminal barristers have remained on strike as they campaign for a 25 per cent increase in legal aid fees.

More strike ballots

Alongside those that already have a strike mandate, a number of unions are either in the process of balloting members for industrial action, or have announced plans to.

The UCU is currently balloting its members in higher education for a national strike in their ongoing dispute over pay, conditions and pensions.

The Fire Brigades Union has announced it is preparing to ballot firefighters and firefighter control staff over pay.

Teachers and nurses are also among those who will be balloted later this year.

Chris Jarvis is head of strategy and development at Left Foot Forward

Left Foot Forward’s trade union coverage is supported by the Barry Amiel & Norman Melburn Trust

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