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Unions to call for ‘coordinated strike action’ over pay and cost of living crisis

Unite and Unison are expected to debate motions for synchronising strikes

Daniel Reast
Sunday 28 August 2022 15:08 BST
Royal Mail strike: 'We are gonna fight very hard here' for pay rise says union boss

Unions are considering coordinated strike action this autumn in response to the worsening cost of living crisis amid ongoing pay disputes.

Unison and Unite are expected to table motions ahead of the TUC congress next month that would enable them to synchronise strike dates and targets to ensure the greatest impact on services, the Observer reported.

Unite’s motion calls on the TUC to “facilitate and encourage industrial coordination between unions so workers in dispute can most effectively harness their union power to win”, the newspaper reported.

It comes as industrial action has escalated over the summer in protest at the spiralling cost of living and in support of better pay increases in line with rocketing inflation.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, tweeted following a visit to workers striking at the Port of Felixstowe on Friday: “A groundswell of unhappiness over living standards is sweeping the country ... The country is facing a moment with clear parallels to unrest over the poll tax, without a shadow of a doubt.”

Calls for a “general strike” have been supported by union leaders from the Communication Workers Union (CWU) and National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), whose members walked out in separate action this week, which are also said to be submitting motions of support for coordinated strikes to the TUC conference.

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT, has previously put his weight behind coordinated industrial action, telling Sky News earlier this week: “I think there will be generalised and synchronised action. It may not be in a traditional form.

“There is a massive response coming from working people, because they’re fed up with the way they’ve been treated.”

Powers to call a general strike are held by the TUC, which has yet to comment on suggestions of coordinated walkouts.

The union body’s general secretary Frances O’Grady, who stood behind Mr Lynch at a picket line on Thursday, said in a recent press statement that “the right to strike is a fundamental British liberty – and no one takes the decision to strike lightly”.

Liz Truss, the current frontrunner to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister on September 5, has previously declared she will introduce new laws to “hinder unions’ ability to cripple the economy”, including the raising of minimum thresholds for strike action from 40 to 50 per cent.

A Unison spokesperson said: “People across the UK are dealing with a financial catastrophe. They deserve fair pay rises to help them deal with the cost-of-living pressures the government is all but ignoring.

“Workers don’t take the decision to strike lightly, but they feel they have no other choice to get a decent wage increase. It makes sense for unions to ensure any industrial action is as effective and meaningful as possible.”

The Independent has contacted the TUC and Unite for comment.

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