Analysis: Is it the end of the Winter of Discontent?
So, rail strikes are heading towards an end and we’ve passed the spring solstice.
The members of the RMT Union, led by the face of the Winter of Discontent, Mick Lynch, have agreed a pay deal which the rail union has said amounts to a pay deal of 14.4 per cent for those on the lowest salaries and 9.2 per cent for the highest paid.
But, crucially, this is only for signal staff and maintenance workers. Other rail employees are still picking grievances over pay with the government with further strikes at the end of this month.
What it does signal is that strikes work.
Elsewhere, more than 1 million NHS workers will be offered a 5 per cent pay increase to put a halt to further strikes within the health service.
This has, for the moment, meant a stay-of-execution on further strikes, but there is a brewing movement within various NHS unions to convince its members to reject the pay deal.
Teacher’s unions have also paused strikes for talks with the government over pay.
It is a sign the tide is turning.
At the same time, inflation is expected to head down to less than 3 per cent by the end of this year, which should push the price of every day essentials down.
Even still, the Office for Budget responsibility has forecast the biggest fall in living standards over the two years to March 2024.
This means that even though there has been a pause on strikes disrupting the country, there is still a very real possibility of a return to days of strikes on end.
On some analysis, the cost of the wave of strikes beginning last summer and continuing through the winter cost the UK economy £6bn.
At least £1.4bn of this is down to lost working hours, as people were forced to stay home during the rail strikes, according to research from the Centre for Business and Economic Research.
While the various pay discussions have offered much needed signs of a reprieve, they could easily kick off again, causing yet another wave of industrial action across the UK.