Retain is facing strike chaos on Wednesday as half a million civil servants, teachers and train drivers walk out simultaneously in the biggest day of industrial action in a decade.

Downing Street warned the public that coordinated strikes would cause “significant disruption” as around half a million public sector workers walk out over pay, jobs and conditions.

The National Education Union (NEU) expects 23,000 schools to be affected by strike action in England and Wales, with 200,000 members on strike.

About 150 universities will also be affected by Wednesday’s strike disruption, as lecturers and librarians from the UCU union join the walkout.

One lakh members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) are set to go on strike in government departments, the Border Force, museums and other government agencies.

Meanwhile, Aslef and train driver members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union will walk out on Wednesday in a long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

The industrial action will affect 14 of the UK’s biggest train operators, with most services halted.

Live updates


Who is attacking today?

With the slogan ‘Walkout Wednesday’, seven trade union teachers, university professors, train drivers, civil servants, bus drivers and security guards have stopped work from today.

A total of lakhs of workers have gone on a coordinated strike in separate disputes over wages, jobs and conditions.

For a full wrap on who’s striking, why, and how it affects you, click here.

Union signs during strike march

/ PA Archives


How to get around London amid bus, train and tube strikes this week

Bus and rail strikes are taking place today and will affect London later in the week, as workers walk out over disputes over pay, job security, and redundancy.

Transport for London (TfL) has warned that some routes will not operate on strike days and there will be “severe disruption” across the city’s public transport network.

For a full breakdown of the transport strikes and how to travel around the capital when they are happening, click here.


London headteacher: ‘We can’t keep children safe – that’s why I’m striking’

Richard Slade, headteacher at Plumcroft Primary School in Greenwich, told the Standard why he walked out for the first time in his 20-year career.

“Hope, possibility, joy and opportunity have been removed from education, and schools like mine are no longer able to keep children safe,” he said.

Richard Slade, Headmaster of Plumcroft Primary School in Greenwich

/ Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures Limited

He said that when he became headmaster in 2010 “we had enough funding to deliver our curriculum and expand it to things like visits from musicians, residential school trips, and health and wellness projects”.

“We can’t do that now because the numbers just don’t work,” he added.

“We cannot afford so-called ‘extras’ like addressing obesity; We have reached a point where we don’t have enough money to be able to do even the day-to-day basics of education properly.

“We teachers have been paddling under the surface for years, putting on brave faces, smiling and hopeful for the sake of the children in our care and their families, but it has reached a point where we can paddle no more. We’re drowning.”

Read the full story here.


Pictured: Teachers walk the picket line

Teachers have joined picket lines this morning – the National Education Association estimates that about 85 percent of schools will be closed in whole or in part as a result of today’s walkouts.

Teachers strike outside London’s Harris Academy school

/ Reuters

It is estimated that around 200,000 teachers from 23,000 schools will go on strike today.

The Department of Education has proposed a 5 percent salary increase for most teachers for the current academic year, but the NEU is demanding a salary increase above inflation that is fully subsidized.

Teachers at Hurlingham Academy in Fulham are joining the strike

/ Reuters


Public support for striking rail workers ‘going strong’ – Mick Whelan

A year on from the first Aslef ballot, support for a strike by rail workers and the wider public is “strengthening”, according to the union’s general secretary.

Speaking at a rally outside London’s Euston station this morning, Mick Whelan said: “We’ve seen polls this week that show support for all unions on strike, including the rail unions.

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan on a picket line at Euston station the day before the strike

/ PA

“You will see from the millions of people on strike today in all sectors that the cost of living crisis does not just affect train drivers, it affects everyone.

“Everybody knows somebody is working somewhere that’s out on strike, about to go on strike or voting for strike action.

“Quite simply, the government now has to listen – the people of this country are speaking, and they’re saying they want an increase in the cost of living.”


1,000 Border Force staff announce cross-Channel half-term strike

Border force officials at France’s major ports have announced new strike action over the upcoming half-term holidays.

Around 1,000 members of the Public and Commercial Service Union (PCS) in Dover, Calais, Cocles and Dunkirk will go on strike on February 17, 18, 19 and 20 in a long-running dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.

The announcement comes after 100,000 PCS members from 123 government departments and agencies, including the Border Force, walked out today in the biggest civil service strike in a decade.

Read more on half-term strikes here.


85% of schools will be fully or partially closed today, NEU says

According to the general secretary of the National Education Association, almost 85 percent of schools will be completely or partially closed due to today’s strike.

Speaking outside Bishop Thomas Grant School in Streatham, south London, Dr Mary Boustead told the BBC: “Around 85 per cent of schools today – fully closed or partially closed – will be affected.”

Mary Bustead, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union (NEU).

/ PA

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said she expected most schools to open today, although some would have restrictions.

About 200,000 teachers from 23,000 schools are expected to walk out.

Dr Boustead said the striking teachers had received “many” messages of support from parents.

“We are very sorry that this strike has caused so much inconvenience to parents,” she said. “We know that for many of them it will be very difficult to find childcare.

“But we’re also getting a lot of messages from parents who say, ‘Well, something has to be done, my child is being taught by supply teacher after supply teacher’.


Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan arrives at the Euston picket line


Picture: PCS members strike at Westminster

Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) mounted picket lines outside government offices in central London.

Members of the PCS union on a picket line outside HM Treasury’s offices in Westminster

/ PA

Pictures show members holding placards outside Westminster departments, including the Cabinet Office; Treasure; Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport; and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Around 100,000 PCS members are expected to strike today in a long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions – those who work in government departments, the Border Force, museums and other government agencies.

PCS is seeking a 10% pay rise after the government pays 2%, which the union complains is lower than the rising rate of inflation.

The union also fears major job losses and cuts to redundancy terms for those affected.


Most schools are expected to open, the education department said

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said she expected most schools to open today, although around 200,000 teachers in 23,000 schools were expected to strike.

“We did a survey and we went around a lot of schools and it told us that most schools would be open but some would have restrictions for different groups,” she told BBC Breakfast.

Ms Keegan said the country could not afford a salary award above inflation.

“It is not realistic for us to see inflation or wage growth beating inflation. We cannot risk fueling inflation with inflation-busting salary increases. We have to take care of everyone in the economy,” she said.


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