FFS explains: Upcoming strikes in Scotland 4

FFS explains: Upcoming strikes in Scotland

Scotland is set for another wave of strike action in the coming months, with train drivers, postal workers and university staff all among those scheduled to down tools in the autumn. 

Ferret Fact Service explains the context to these upcoming strikes and when they are scheduled to take place. This page will be updated as and when new strikes are announced. 

Ferret Fact Service | Scotland's impartial fact check project

Fri 19 September – Mon 3 October 

Support staff at Dundee University will walk out for two weeks in a long-running dispute over cuts to pensions. A previous strike over the same issue took place in October 2021. 

Susan Robertson, regional officer at Unite, which represents the workers, said the proposals would see staff “work longer, pay in more and receive less in retirement.”

“These are the lowest paid workers at the University and deserve to be treated fairly,” she added.

Tues 20 and Wed 21 September, Mon 3 and Tues 4 October

Unison members working in the University of Glasgow, Edinburgh Napier University and Robert Gordon University will walk out in September in protest against a below-inflation pay offer. 

Those on strike are support staff such as cleaners, I.T. staff and security workers. 

Lorcan Mullen, UNISON Scotland regional organiser, said this action was part of the “first wave” of strikes set to hit universities this year. 

“These workers kept universities running throughout the pandemic; they are indispensable to a functioning university and they cannot keep being treated as second-class citizens on Scottish campuses,” he said. 

Fri 30 September and Sat 1 October

Thousands of Royal Mail workers are set to strike again in an ongoing dispute about pay. 

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said previous pay rise offers did not make up for the cost of living crisis experienced by its members. 

CWU general secretary Dave Ward said members “can’t keep on living in a country where bosses rake in billions in profit while their employees are forced to use food banks.”

“The CWU’s message to Royal Mail’s leadership is simple – there will be serious disruption until you get real on pay,” he added.

Royal Mail said it was ready to take part in talks with the union, but called on the CWU to “engage meaningfully on the business changes required.” 

Wed 23 September, Sat 1 October, Wed 5 October

Strikes across the railway network are to continue into October, with the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union (RMT) and Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) among those set to walk out for 24 hours on 1st October.

Train drivers’ union ASLEF members will also down tools on 5th October, while RMT members who work as cleaners for Avanti services will take part in an additional strike on 23rd September.

The dispute concerns pay and conditions, with workers striking over below-inflation pay offers and changes to the network which they say will threaten jobs and endanger passengers. 

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT, warned that this year’s “summer of solidarity” would continue into autumn and winter if employers and the government did not meet workers’ demands. 

“Working people will not accept continued attacks on pay and working conditions at a time when big business profits are at an all-time high,” he said. 

Possible future strikes

As well as the planned strikes above, a number of unions have also balloted members but are yet to announce strikes. Others are in the process of balloting members to gauge support for strike action. These include:

  • The Royal College of Nursing balloting members over a pay dispute.
  • NHS Scotland workers represented by Unison balloting over pay.
  • The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) holding a national ballot over pay, pensions, jobs and redundancies.
  • Scotrail workers represented by the RMT voted to strike with dates to be announced.
  • Members of Scotland’s teachers’ union EIS voted for a strike in a consultative ballot and will now be balloted again formally.

Past strikes

Below you can find details of strikes which have already taken place or which have been averted.

Strikes on Sat, 13 August

Following strike action in July, train drivers represented by the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) planned to again walk off the job for a day on Saturday 13 August, affecting Avanti West Coast and Cross Country services amongst others. 

Drivers called for a pay increase in line with inflation. General secretary Mick Whelan commented: “Many of our members – who were the men and women who moved key workers and goods around the country during the pandemic – have not had a pay rise since 2019.

“With inflation running at north of 10 per cent, that means those drivers have had a real terms pay cut over the last three years. We want an increase in line with the cost of living – we want to be able to buy, in 2022, what we could buy in 2021.”

Network Rail said it would be “neither fair nor realistic” to ask taxpayers and passengers to fund a further pay increase.

Sat,13 August – Sat, 20 August

More than 300 workers at a DHL distribution centre in Lanarkshire planned to strike for a week, affecting supplies to Sainsbury’s stores across Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

The workers are represented by Unite and took action over a pay offer lower than that of the rest of the UK, said the union

“The cost of living crisis is impacting every DHL Sainsbury’s worker equally but this billion pound company continues to value their workers at East Kilbride less than others based throughout the UK,” said Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham. 

“The company will soon know the value of its workforce when there will be empty shelves in Sainsbury’s stores throughout Scotland and Northern Ireland. All our members are asking for is the same wage rise.”

A DHL spokesperson told iNews the company was “disappointed” by the decision to strike and would engage in further talks. 

Thurs, 18 August and Sat, 20 August

Thousands of workers responsible for maintenance of the UK’s railways planned strikes on 18 and 20 August in further action by the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), alongside the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA). Widespread disruption was expected in Scotland, with Avanti West Coast and LNER amongst the operators affected. 

The dispute concerned job security, pay and conditions, with the union opposing planned compulsory redundancies which they say would threaten passenger safety as well as affecting members. They also called for a pay rise in line with inflation, following record profits for rail operators. 

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT, said recent proposals from Network Rail had “fallen well short on pay and safety.”

“The rail industry and the government need to understand that this dispute will not simply vanish,” he added.

“They need to get serious about providing an offer on pay which helps deal with the cost-of-living crisis, job security for our members and provides good conditions at work.”

Network Rail said it was continuing to move forward with reforms. 

Thurs, 18 August – Tues, 30 August

Workers responsible for refuse collection in the Scottish capital downed tools for the latter half of the Edinburgh Festivals in a dispute over pay, after the council’s offer for a two per cent pay increase was rejected by the GMB and Unite unions. 

Workers in other council areas followed later in the month as part of a coordinated campaign. 

GMB Scotland organiser Kirsten Muat said: “Waste will pile during the Edinburgh Festival unless a significantly improved pay offer for local government staff is tabled.

“When visitors from across the world ask why this is happening, the response will be straightforward: our members are not prepared for local services to be delivered on the backs of the working poor.”

Mon, 22 August – Mon, 29 August

Workers at Scotland’s only coffin manufacturing site were set to take strike action in the last week of August, after rejecting a pay offer from employers Cooperative Funeral Care

The union said bosses had walked away from negotiations, something the employer denies. 

Willie Thomson, Unite industrial officer, said the Coop had displayed “a take it or leave it attitude.”

“Our members, recognised as essential workers, deserve better from an employer who promotes social goals and giving back to communities,” he said. 

Cooperative Funeral Care told STV its employees in Glasgow were “a hugely valued part of our Co-op” and that they remained in dialogue with the union. 

Wed, 24 August – Tues, 30 August

Bin collection workers at a further fifteen Scottish councils followed those in Edinburgh as they went on strike later in the month over pay. 

Workers represented by Unite took action in Aberdeen, Angus, Clackmannanshire, Dundee, East Ayrshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, Falkirk, Glasgow, Highland, Inverclyde, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire and West Lothian. They called for a pay increase in line with inflation after rejecting an earlier two per cent pay offer. 

“Unite’s members play a crucial role in keeping Scotland’s bins emptied and streets clean and they have had enough of the procrastination between Cosla and the Scottish Government” said Sharon Graham.

“Our members across all councils will receive the union’s complete support until this dispute is resolved and a fair pay offer secured.”

26 and 31 August, 8 and 9 September

Thousands of Royal Mail workers went on strike for four days over August and September in a dispute about pay. The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said previous pay rise offers did not make up for the cost of living crisis experienced by its members. 

CWU general secretary Dave Ward said members “can’t keep on living in a country where bosses rake in billions in profit while their employees are forced to use food banks.”

“The CWU’s message to Royal Mail’s leadership is simple – there will be serious disruption until you get real on pay,” he added.

Royal Mail said it was ready to take part in talks with the union, but called on the CWU to “engage meaningfully on the business changes required.” 

26 and 31 August, 15 and 16 September

Journalists at a number of local and national Scottish newspapers planned coordinated strike action in August and September in separate disputes about pay and redundancies.

Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) at Reach titles including The Daily Record were set to strike on all four days over a pay dispute. Colleagues at National World, which includes the Scotsman and Edinburgh Evening News, planned to join them on 26 August and 2 September in protest at compulsory redundancies.

John Toner, NUJ Scotland organiser, said: “We continue to believe that a resolution is possible, and we are willing to meet the employer at any point for talks.”

30 and 31 August

Workers for BT and Openreach, represented by the CWU, planned to hold a second two-day strike in August over what the union called a ‘real-terms pay cut’.

The workers first downed tools in July this year, the first strike action to affect BT since 1987.

Deputy general secretary Andy Kerr said: “There’s no doubt that we were as solid as we could have been in the first industrial action – and I have no doubt that will be repeated on August 30th and 31st.”

“We’re still hoping to get BT back round the table for serious negotiations, but as things stand it has sadly become clear that simply isn’t going to happen unless we take further action…so that’s precisely what we’re going to do.”

6, 7 and 8 September

School and nursery staff in councils across Scotland were expected to strike in September over a dispute about pay.

The staff, represented by Unison and GMB, work in Aberdeenshire, Clackmannanshire, East Renfrewshire, Glasgow City, Inverclyde, Orkney, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire and Stirling. They include cleaners, caretakers, catering staff and teaching assistants.

Keir Greenaway, GMB’s public services organiser, said those going on strike were “forgotten workers of the Scottish education system.”

“They deserved to be valued so much better, and they need to be too if they are able to survive the scourge of soaring inflation and energy bills in the weeks and months to come,” he added.

Thurs 8, Thurs 15 and Fri 16 September

Members of Unite union working at Scotland’s exam body, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), called a strike for September after rejecting a pay offer. 

Unite’s industrial officer Alison Maclean characterised the pay offer as “a brutal real-terms pay cut.”

“Hundreds of workers could see their job roles and conditions being significantly altered yet none of us are any the wiser on what this proposed reform will mean on a day to day basis,” she said. 

This page was last updated on 21st September 2022

Image thanks to iStock/LeManna

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