Rishi Sunak warns his cabinet about ‘challenging’ winter of UK strikes
Rishi Sunak has warned his cabinet that winter will be “challenging” as widespread industrial action ramps up and as the economic downturn deepens.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman today said the “government will do all we can to minimise disruption”, while calling for union bosses to get back to the negotiating table.
Today marks the first day of widespread rail strikes this month, with services set to be severely disrupted throughout much of the Christmas period.
Nurses, airport workers, posties and assorted civil servants will also walk off the job this month as workers fight for pay increases close to the UK’s near 11 per cent inflation rate.
It comes as the UK is expected to fall into an official recession in early 2023, which could last for two years.
“The Prime Minister opened cabinet by saying the country is facing significant industrial action across a range of sectors this winter and that this will be a challenging period to get through,” Sunak’s spokesman said.
“He added that the government had been fair and reasonable in its approach to agreeing the independent pay review bodies’ recommendations for public sector pay rises and in facilitating further discussions with unions and employers.
“He said while the government will do all we can to minimise disruption, the only way we can stop it completely is by unions going back round the table and calling off these strikes.”
Over 400,000 working days were lost to strikes in October, the highest since November 2011, official figures from the Office for National Statistics out today revealed.
National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) chief Mick Lynch today accused Number 10 of “deliberately obstructing” a resolution with rail workers.
RMT members have been offered a pay rise of about 9 per cent over two years, however they are calling for a larger increase and guarantees around job security.
“We’ve seen it with the nurses, we’ve seen it with the paramedics,” he said.
“They are obstructing these deals because they want to keep wages lowered and they want to strip out the terms and conditions for many people”.