UK Strikes:

Meetings with ministers to resolve NHS, rail and civil service strikes ends ‘in total farce’

Morning Star | January 12, 2023

Mick Lynch, (left) general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) arrives at the offices of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) for a Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) meeting

ASTRIKE by 100,000 civil servants is set to go ahead next month after unions branded today’s crisis talks with Tory ministers a “total farce.”

Cabinet Office Minister Jeremy Quin met with the leaders of the PCS, FDA and Prospect unions after they said December’s Border Force walkouts would be followed by massive industrial action across 124 government departments and other bodies on February 1.

But despite discussions over pay, jobs, working conditions and pensions being “well-trailed by the government as a chance to resolve the crisis, it was nothing of the sort because the minister had nothing to offer,” PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka charged.

“He didn’t deny that thousands of our members only get a pay rise because of national minimum wage increases, but he refused to give us a pay rise now.

“Despite knowing the alternative would be sustained industrial action, he still refused to budge — we will not stand by and watch our members be condemned to low pay.”

FDA general secretary Dave Penman said that the talks had been “cordial” but “lacked anything concrete.

“We could not have been clearer that a resolution requires something tangible to be put on the table, not simply more ‘listening mode’ meetings,” he said.

And Prospect leader Mike Clancy argued: “It is clear that civil servants remain at the back of the queue for public-sector pay.”

Separate talks were also held to try to resolve national disputes across the NHS and the railways.

The British Medical Association, whose junior doctor members are voting on whether to hold strikes over pay, said that a meeting with Health Secretary Steve Barclay had been “constructive.”

But Professor Philip Banfield, chair of the union’s council, warned Downing Street that it has six weeks to avert walkouts, with the ballot closing on February 20.

Unison, which launched ambulance strikes alongside Unite and GMB last month, said confirmation from Labour’s Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford that health service workers in Wales would receive a one-off payment “significantly ups the pressure on Westminster.”

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch, who joined officials from fellow transport union TSSA in a meeting with rail industry bosses, said he expected a new wage offer imminently.

Unions have stressed that only an end to real-terms pay cuts can resolve six months of walkouts which have paralysed the network.

An RMT statement said: “Both parties have agreed to continue discussions over the next few days.”



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s