Nurses, Royal Mail and even coffin-makers: Every strike likely to affect UK by end of 2022

From nursing to postal deliveries, few public services will be unaffected by industrial action this winter

Jane Dalton
Friday 02 December 2022 09:02 GMT
Christmas Eve among six more strike dates announced for Royal Mail workers

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Louise Thomas

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As inflation has climbed steadily throughout year, workers have seen rising prices eroding their earnings – just as employers have been trying to make savings or modernise working practices to cope with increasing costs.

The result? Clashes over pay, redundancies, pensions and terms and conditions.

A new “winter of discontent” had begun even before Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement on 17 November, which left householders everywhere feeling even worse off.

And with the cost of living crisis set to deepen, the disputes will inevitably grow fiercer.

These are the professions and industries for which strike dates have already been announced:


The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has announced members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will strike on 15 and 20 December. Up to 100,000 workers are expected to take part in the pre-Christmas walkouts.

Only one NHS employer in Wales will not go ahead with strike action.

RCN members in England will strike at half the locations where the legal threshold for action was met.

The union added that the number of employers affected will increase in January unless formal negotiations with the government are held.

The union is calling for a pay rise of 5 per cent above inflation, saying that despite a pay rise earlier this year, experienced nurses were worse off by 20 per cent because of successive below-inflation awards since 2010.

The RCN’s mandate to organise strikes runs until early May next year.

The RCN said that most nursing staff had voted to strike over pay and patient safety
The RCN said that most nursing staff had voted to strike over pay and patient safety (PA)


Services across the country will be crippled on several dates across December as members of RMT take strike action.

The RMT has revealed that more than 40,000 workers across Network Rail and 14 train operating companies will stage a series of 48-hour walk-outs on 13, 14, 16 and 17 December and on 3, 4, 6 and 7 January 2023, impacting Christmas and the New Year.

The RMT has also issued an overtime ban for its members across the railway network from 18 December to 2 January.

Avanti RMT union members are also due to strike on 11 and 12 December.

Bosses who want to cut 1,900 jobs say the railway has not recovered from the coronavirus pandemic, is currently losing millions a day and is in desperate need of modernisation. Some services will be severely disrupted and others will not run at all.

The strike will hit these train operators: Avanti West Coast; Chiltern Railways; CrossCountry; East Midlands Railway; Great Western Railway; Greater Anglia; London North Eastern Railway; Northern Trains; Southeastern; Transpennine Express, and West Midlands Trains.

Over 1000 railway cleaners will also take national strike action for the first time on 22, 23 and 31 December.

A picket line outside Euston station in London
A picket line outside Euston station in London (Rebecca Speare-Cole/PA)

Royal Mail

Christmas postal deliveries will be hit if, as planned, Royal Mail workers stage six fresh strikes next month, including on Christmas Eve, in a dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said its members would walk out on 1, 9, 11, 14, 15, 23 and 24 December.

Royal Mail bosses, who have been consulting on plans to cut around 10,000 full-time jobs by August, have offered 9 per cent pay rises.

The Communication Workers Union said its members would strike throughout December
The Communication Workers Union said its members would strike throughout December (PA)


Unison announced this week that thousands of 999 call handlers, ambulance technicians, paramedics and their colleagues working for ambulance services in the North East, North West, London, Yorkshire and the South West are set to strike, probably before Christmas.

The union is calling for action on pay and a big rise in staff numbers, warning that unless these things happen, services will continue to decline.

Health workers belonging to Unison and working in Northern Ireland have already voted to take action over pay and staffing.

In Scotland, Unison is recommending its NHS members vote to accept the latest offer from the Scottish Government which will see a £2,205 increase for the lowest paid staff, and more for those on higher bands.

That vote closes on December 12. In Wales, the threshold necessary for strike action was not met anywhere, and its health committee is to meet to decide on its next steps.


Members from the National Education Union (NEU) across 77 sixth-form colleges in England are striking on 30 November in a dispute over pay.

Sixth-form college teachers have received a real-terms pay cut of an estimated 20 per cent since 2010, the union said.

Civil servants

Driving examiners and rural payment officers have announced strike dates for Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS).

DVSA workers will take action from 13-18 December starting in Scotland and Northern Ireland. These will be followed by more strikes from 19-24 December in the North West, Yorkshire and Humber and North Wales, on 28, 29, 30, 31 December and 3 January in the West Midlands, Eastern region and East Midlands and from 4 to 10 January in London, South East, South Wales and South West.

Staff at the Rural Payments Agency will walk out from 13-16 Decemeber, with further action to take place on 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23 December and 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 January.

The RPA offices in Workington, Newcastle and Caernarfon will be striking.

Civil servants in the Home Office, Border Force, Department for Transport and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are due to take industrial action, affecting services ranging from passport control at ports and airports to driving tests and the issuing of driving licences.

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) said action will start in mid-December and continue for a month in a row over pay, jobs and pensions.

Some workers will take action for the entire month, while others will walk out for shorter periods.

The army will start training soldiers to replace Border Force officers who walk out, it has been reported.

More industrial action will be announced next month.

They are asking for a 10 per cent pay rise and guarantees on job security and redundancy terms.

Members of the PCS union have voted to strike over pay, pensions and jobs
Members of the PCS union have voted to strike over pay, pensions and jobs (PA Wire)


Bus strikes are set for Abellio and Metroline services. Strikes will take place on:

  • Thursday 1 to Saturday 3 December (Abellio and Metroline)
  • Thursday 8 December (Abellio only)
  • Friday 9 December (Abellio and Metroline)
  • Saturday 10 December (Metroline only)
  • Thursday 15 December (Abellio only)
  • Friday 16 December (Abellio and Metroline)
  • Saturday 17 December (Metroline only)

The GMB union said two-thirds of its members working for Stagecoach in the city rejected an offer below the 10 per cent being demanded.

Almost 200 drivers have taken several days of strike action already.


Offshore workers went on strike for two days in mid-November in a dispute over pay.

Unite Scotland said its members on the Repsol assets joined an overtime ban and 48-hour stoppage on Wednesday 16 November and Thursday 17 November.

A further 48-hour stoppage is planned for 8 and 9 December. These dates replace strike dates previously planned for 30 November and 1 December. Around 146 members are involved in the dispute.

Firefighters are also set to vote on strike action
Firefighters are also set to vote on strike action (PA Archive)


Firefighters are due to vote on strikes after rejecting a 5 per cent pay offer that union members say is a real-terms pay cut.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) will be balloted in the coming weeks on whether to stage industrial action.

If they vote in favour, it threatens the first national strike over pay since 2003.

The strike ballot is set to be open from 5 December to 30 January.

Coffin makers

Workers at the UK’s only coffin factory took part in a strike at the beginning of November.

Fifty Unite members walked out every day for a week at Bogmoor Place in Glasgow in a dispute over pay.

Staff had rejected an offer from Co-op, which insisted funeral services would not be affected.

Post offices

The Post Office has said it is not involved in the dispute between CWU and Royal Mail that will result in multiple strikes across December.

However, it stressed that while branches will remain open, there will be disruption to letters and parcel collections on the dates of industrial action.

Around 1,500 CWU Post Office members took action in August and similar numbers are likely to walk out again next time in a dispute that’s separate from the Royal Mail one.

Staff who deliver cash and supplies to sub-post offices, process finances and work in administration have backed industrial action for more pay.

The CWU has not announced a date for fresh strikes, saying only that they are due to go ahead next year.

The union said the action was in protest at a 3 per cent pay offer for the 2022/23 financial year, alongside a one-off payment of £500.

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