Number of days lost to strikes hits 843,000 in December

Number of days lost to strikes hit 12-YEAR HIGH of 843,000 in December despite public sector pay rising sharply

The number of working days lost to strikes reached a near 12-year high in December despite a surge in public sector pay.

Industrial action cost 843,000 days over the month – a peak since November 2011 when 997,000 were recorded.

More than 1.7million days were lost in the final quarter of last year as a wave of walkouts over pay and conditions caused havoc.

But separate figures released by the Office for National Statistics today showed that public sector wages have been bumping up.

Although annual growth in regular pay at 4.2 per cent was still running behind the 7.3 per cent in the private sector between October and December, the gap was significantly smaller than previously.

Everyone’s income is still going up far more slowly than rampant inflation. 

Industrial action cost 843,000 working days in December – a peak since November 2011 when 997,000 were recorded

The picture emerged as university staff and civil servants strike today.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) and the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union will mount picket lines outside universities and the British Museum in disputes over pay, pensions and working conditions.

More than 70,000 members of the UCU will begin the first of three successive days of strike action across 150 universities in the UK this week, which threaten disruption to students’ lectures and seminars.

Around 100 members of the PCS union at the British Museum working in visitor services and security teams are striking all week as part of a dispute over pay, pensions, redundancy terms and job security.

The UCU confirmed last night that it will reballot its members to allow university staff to take further industrial action through the rest of the academic year if their demands are not met by employers.

The announcement came as the UCU entered talks with the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), which represents 144 employers, via the conciliation service Acas.

The UCEA has made a pay offer of between 5 per cent and 8 per cent, which had been rejected by the union.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘Staff are striking because they are sick of being denied a decent pay rise, secure employment, and proper pensions.

Although annual growth in public sector regular pay at 4.2 per cent was still running behind the 7.3 per cent in the private sector between October and December, the gap was significantly smaller than previously

‘And students are standing with us because they know that staff working conditions are their learning conditions.

‘Our union is determined to reach a negotiated settlement which allows staff to get back to work and students to continue their studies uninterrupted.

‘But that can only happen if vice chancellors come out of hiding and use a fraction of the sector’s vast wealth to make serious, well-rounded offers to staff.’

Raj Jethwa, UCEA’s chief executive, said: ‘It is disappointing that UCU has confirmed it will re-ballot on the day that these Acas talks have started.

‘It is saddening if even a single student is impacted by the 18 days of strike action that UCU has already asked its member to take, and we hope that these Acas talks will help to resolve this dispute.’

PCS members are also on strike this week at the Department for Work and Pensions, DVLA and the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

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