As Christmas approaches several of Britain’s trade unions have decided to call strikes that will cause havoc to Britain’s major transport systems. The Prime Minister Theresa May has so far ignored calls from senior figures in her party to try and reduce the powers of the unions to avoid chaos. The current strikes planned over christmas are as follows:
British airways – The Unite union have backed strike action by what could be up to 4,500 staff on so called “mixed fleet” contracts, these are people who started after 2010 and according to the union are lower paid than their counterparts. The company insists that long haul flights will be unaffected and have branded the action “calculated”.
Virgin Atlantic – The professional pilots union has called on its members for industrial action, but has stopped short of calling a strike. The row is down to the union not being recognised officially by Virgin. Virgin has also stated that flights shouldn’t be affected.
Southern trains – After talks between the beleaguered company and the union Aslef over the strikes broke down it is expected that strikes will continue to take place over the network during Christmas week.
Post office – In an also unrelated strike workers from the Crown Post Office are set to walk out for five days this week in a continuing row over branch closures and pensions, talks that were hoped would avert the strike broke down and it is expected that this will mainly affect larger high street branches of the group, as many smaller outlets are franchised and aren’t affected.
Senior Tory figures are said to be trying to convince the Prime Minister that the unions are trying to hold the country to ransom. Though it is likely to be denied it certainly appears that the trade unions are trying to work in unity to cause disruption to the country, especially in the transport sector. It will remind many of the so called “Winter of discontent in 1978-79 which featured strikes from several unions that brought the country to a standstill. Though Britain hasn’t seen large scale strikes since the 70’s, the ongoing troubles with Southern added to a background of political turmoil and wage freezes can only mean that strikes are likely to get more common. The pressure will be on Mrs May to try and control the fallout of these strikes.
Joseph is a 34 year old freelance writer from London. He has a wide interest in politics and specialises in the subject. He's also a blog writer in his spare time.