Half a million strike in 'biggest co-ordinated action in decades'

It follows a move by the UK Government seeking to change labour laws and limit industrial action.

Around 50,000 Scottish workers are striking on Wednesday as part of UK-wide industrial action.

Teachers, higher education staff, civil servants and some rail workers and coffin makers are taking part in what has been dubbed the biggest round of co-ordinated strikes in decades, organised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

It follows a move by the UK Government which will seek to change labour laws and limit strike action, meaning that employers have the power to put in minimum levels of service.

A petition against the law, signed by more than 200,000 members of the public, will be handed in to 10 Downing Street.

Around 100,000 civil servants have walked out across the UK for one day of action across most government departments, the PCS union said, including staff working at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh and the Scottish Government.

Teachers strike in Aberdeen on February 1, 2023STV News

Maggie Chapman, Green MSP for North East Scotland, said: “The Scottish Greens stand firmly with striking workers. We will not cross any virtual or physical picket lines and hope that MSPs from all parties will join us in that.

“With the Tories introducing a range of new and repressive anti-trade union legislation, it is more vital than ever that we stand in unity and solidarity.

“So many of our existing rights have been won by working people coming together and taking action. Whether it is minimum wage, paid holidays or weekends, all of these rights have been hard fought and won by organised, unionised workers.

“Trade unions have done so much for every single one of us, which is why we must support them.”

Courts and tribunals may also see disruption but those due to attend court on Wednesday have been advised to do so, the Crown Office and Prosecution Service said.

Higher education workers will also walk out as part of their ongoing dispute over pensions, pay and conditions.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at the majority of Scotland’s universities will take strike action.

Some train company workers have also walked out, affecting some services to Scotland.

Train drivers in Aslef and the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) are embroiled in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions.

A recent offer of a 4% pay rise for last year and another 4% this year was rejected, with the unions arguing that conditions attached to the proposed deal, such as compulsory Sunday working, were never going to be accepted.

Aslef has argued that more train drivers should be employed, but claims rail operators find it cheaper to pay staff overtime to work on Sundays.

Services will be severely affected on Wednesday, and again on Friday during a second strike, with some areas having no trains at all and those that do run will start later and finish earlier than usual.

ScotRail says services will operate as normal on Wednesday.

David Simpson, ScotRail service delivery director, said: “No ScotRail services will be affected by this week’s upcoming strike action. It is disappointing to see more widespread disruption across Great Britain at a time when the railway needs to be doing everything it can to encourage more people to travel by train.

“The dispute between the trade unions and other train operators does not involve any ScotRail staff, which means ScotRail services will operate as normal on Wednesday 1 and Friday February 3.”

LNER is running a limited service from Edinburgh south of the border, but no trains will run any further north than Edinburgh.

Avanti West Coast has advised customers not to travel on Wednesday or Friday.

Barry Milsom, executive director of operations and safety at Avanti West Coast, said: “On February 1 and 3, we won’t be able to run any trains as a result of this industrial action and our customers are advised not to travel.

“Services will also be impacted on February 2 with a revised timetable in place, and customers should check before they travel on this date.

“We all need to work with each other to find a solution which will benefit our people and customers. It is essential that as an industry we continue to talk with the RMT and Aslef about industry reform so we can develop together a railway fit for the 21st century.”

School strikes will continue in Clackmannanshire and Aberdeen as part of the 16-day rolling strike action by the EIS union.

The union says there has still been no constructive talks on pay, with the Scottish Government maintaining that the demands of 10% are “unaffordable”.

Wednesday’s national day of action will culminate in a Right To Strike rally organised by the STUC and will be addressed by SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and STUC general secretary Roz Foyer.

Rallies will also take place in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee throughout the day.

Ms Foyer said: “Across the country, 500,000 workers – in partnership with the TUC National Day of Action against this Bill – are striking in one of the biggest displays of worker power we’ve seen in generations.

“The Tories have given workers the length and breadth of Scotland the clearest indication yet that they’re running scared of our ability to fight and organise for a better future.

“Far from dismembering our movement, the UK Government have empowered it. We’ll make that abundantly clear to them tomorrow at our national rally.”

Business secretary Grant Shapps said: “The first job of any government is to keep the public safe. Because whilst we absolutely believe in the ability to strike, we are duty-bound to protect the lives and livelihoods of the British people.

“I am introducing a Bill that will give the government the power to ensure that vital public services will have to maintain a basic function, by delivering minimum safety levels ensuring that lives and livelihoods are not lost.

“We do not want to have to use this legislation unless we have to, but we must ensure the safety of the British public.”

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