December strikes: Who is striking and what are their pay claims?

Ambulance workers
Ambulance workers

Strikes have disrupted everything from train services to postal deliveries and teaching in schools.

More workers are expected to walk out, as demands grow for better working conditions and pay increases to keep up with rising prices.

A graphic showing who is striking in the run-up to Christmas
A graphic showing who is striking in the run-up to Christmas

Ambulance staff

  • 10,000 ambulance workers - including paramedics, control room staff and support workers - will strike across most of England and Wales on 21 and 28 December

  • The walkout by the three main ambulance unions - Unison, GMB and Unite - will affect non-life threatening calls only. The military are on standby to help out

  • All the unions have asked for above-inflation pay rises

  • The governments in England and Wales have given NHS staff an average rise of 4.75%, with a minimum £1,400 rise

Read more: Ambulance staff to strike on 21 December

Nurses

  • Nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are set to strike on 15 December and 20 December

  • The Royal College of Nurses wants a rise of 5% above the Retail Price Index (RPI) measure of inflation - currently 14%

  • The government in England says this year's pay award - a 4.75% average increase - is in line with the independent NHS Pay Review Body recommendation

Read more: What is nurses' strike about?

Rail workers

  • Rail workers first called strike days in June, with further walkouts planned across December and January

  • The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) wants a pay offer reflecting the rising cost of living - and a guarantee of no compulsory job losses

  • Rail-industry bosses say changes need to be agreed to afford pay increases and modernise the railway

Read more: When are the next train strikes?

Royal Mail workers

  • Postal workers plan strikes on 9, 11, 14, 15, 23 and 24 December

  • Deliveries are affected, with the last days for Christmas post now 12 December for second class and 16 December for first class

  • Royal Mail has offered a pay deal it says is worth up to 9% over 18 months - but with inflation at 11.1%, the Communication Workers Union wants more

  • The CWU also objects to proposed changes to working conditions, including compulsory Sunday working

Read more: How will Royal Mail strikes affect Christmas?

Teachers

  • Teachers in Scotland walked out on 24 November, with further strikes in December, January and February

  • A 6.85% increase for the lowest paid was rejected, with teachers arguing for 10%

  • Teaching unions in England and Wales are balloting members over pay, which could mean further strikes

Read more: How many schools will close?

University staff

  • Tens of thousands of staff at 150 UK universities walked out on three days in November

  • The University and College Union wants a pay rise worth either 2% above RPI inflation, or 12%, whichever is higher, pension benefits restored and "excessive workloads" tackled

  • An increase in pay "puts jobs at risk", the Universities and College Employers Association says

Read more: Will my lectures be cancelled?

Baggage handlers

  • Ground-handling staff for Menzies Aviation at Heathrow Airport will strike for 72 hours from 16 December

  • Airlines likely to be affected are Air Canada, American Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss Air, Air Portugal, Austrian Airlines, Qantas, Egypt Air, Aer Lingus and Finnair

  • The Unite union says cargo workers were offered a backdated 9.5% pay increase and a further 1% from January 2023, but baggage handlers have been offered only a flat-rate increase and face a real-terms pay cut

Read more: Heathrow faces pre-Christmas baggage handlers strike

Driving examiners

  • Driving examiners will hold rolling strikes from 13 December to 16 January

  • The Public and Commercial Services Union is calling for a 10% pay rise, better pensions, job security and no cuts to redundancy terms

  • The government says the strike might affect driving tests but not theory tests

Read more: Driving examiners across UK to strike over pay

Bus drivers

  • Bus drivers in south and west London will strike on 9, 10, 16 and 17 December

  • The Unite Union is calling for a pay rise to reflect higher cost of living

  • Transport for London (Tfl) has urged Unite and Abellio to work together to avoid disruption for passengers

Read more: London bus drivers to strike in run-up to Christmas

Who else is considering industrial action?

  • About 100,000 civil servants have voted to strike across different government departments

  • Junior doctors in England, represented by the British Medical Association, are planning to hold a ballot in January, over a pay deal which will give them 2% this year

  • Three days of strikes, involving 2,000 Metroline bus drivers in London, have been called off while a pay offer is considered

Which workers are allowed to go on strike?

What's the gap between public and private sector pay?

Have any disputes been resolved?

Some workers have settled disputes:

How many days have been lost to strikes?

In September, 205,000 working days were lost to strikes, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Graph showing an increase number of strike days in since 2017
Graph showing an increase number of strike days in since 2017

The latest monthly total remains significantly less than the 11,716,000 days lost in September 1979 - the month in which strikes peaked during the "winter of discontent".

Chart showing days lost to strikes between 1970 to September 2022. It shows strike days peaking in 1979.
Chart showing days lost to strikes between 1970 to September 2022. It shows strike days peaking in 1979.

Does the public support strike action?

A poll at the end of October by Savanta ComRes found that 60% generally support workers taking industrial action, with 33% opposed.

Asked about strikes over pay and conditions, support varied widely between different industries.

Graph of support for strikes over pay by industry, with nurses receiving the most support and barristers the least.
Graph of support for strikes over pay by industry, with nurses receiving the most support and barristers the least.