Strike-mare before Christmas: Banks and supermarkets face cash crisis

Strike-mare before Christmas: Banks and supermarkets face festive cash crisis as 1,200 G4S security staff vote to strike while RMT is set to announce more rail walkouts… joining thousands of civil servants, postmen and nurses

  • Banks and supermarkets face a festive cash crisis after strike announcement
  • Around 1,200 G4S security staff have become the latest workers to strike  
  • The action could impact the supply of notes and coins to banks and shops
  • The UK is facing a winter of discontent as 100,000 civil servants voted to strike

Banks and supermarkets are facing a festive cash crisis as 1,200 G4S security staff become the latest workers to strike, while RMT is set to announce more rail walkouts, joining thousands of civil servants, postmen and nurses this winter.

The industrial action could impact the supply of notes and coins at lenders such as Barclays, HSBC and Santander, and shops including Tesco, Asda and Aldi.

The GMB union said it will be the first ever strike at G4S after union members voted to walk out from 3am on December 4, with a 97 per cent vote in favour of action.

Who is going on strike and when?

Civil servants:  Around 100,000 civil servants have voted for a national strike over pay, pensions and jobs, the PCS union has announced. The dates are TBC.

Nurses: Strikes are expected to begin in early December and could take place over two dates, potentially a Tuesday and a Thursday. They could last until early May 2023.

Bus drivers: The workers will strike on November 22, 25, and 26 and on December 1, 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 and 17.

Rail workers: Drivers working for 12 British train operators will go on strike on November 26 in an ongoing dispute over pay 

Postal workers: Take national strike action on Thursday 24 and Friday 25 November and for Wednesday 30 November and Thursday 1 December 2022.

G4S security staff: Around 1,200 staff who supply bank notes to lenders and shops will walk out from 3am on December 4.

University staff: More than 70,000 UCU members at 150 universities will strike on November 24, 25 and 30.

Firefighters: The Fire Brigade Union will ballot its members from December 5 to January 23 over industrial action.

Teachers: Two education unions are balloting their members into the new year. The NASUWT ballot run from October 27 to January 9. The NEU ballot runs from October 28 to January 13.    

ASDA staff: HGV drivers employed by Wincanton, an outsourced contract from ASDA are being balloted by Unite. GMB Union is also balloting staff until December 4.

The country is facing a winter of discontent after 100,000 civil servants voted last week to strike while the rail network agreed new dates and nurses decided to take industrial action for the first time in more than a century. 

RMT’s committee is meeting today to discuss further strikes after the Rail Delivery Group and Network Rail refused proposals to end industrial action. 

Nurses are also expected to strike in early December, while rail workers walk out on November 26 and bus drivers strike for 10 days in the lead up to Christmas.

More than 70,000 university staff are striking for three days in November.

Union barons have repeatedly threatened to bring the nation to a standstill in what critics claimed was an attempt to force the first ‘general strike’ in nearly 100 years. Firefighters, teachers and even Asda workers are also considering striking.

G4S Cash Solutions initially offered members a part pay freeze and have since tabled an offer of a four per cent increase and lump sum bonus based on contracted hours.

The security giant was taken over by American firm Allied Universal for £3.8 billion last year following a takeover battle.

Eamon O’Hearn, GMB national officer, said: ‘There are low paid workers doing a dangerous job, transferring the cash so many of us still rely on every day.

‘All they are asking for is a wage they can live on, that they can feed their families on, that they can treat their children this Christmas on.

‘G4S Cash staff provide an absolutely vital service. If they walk out, we can expect genuine cash shortages over the festive period.’

Mark Serwotka, the boss of the Public and Commercial Services union, which balloted 150,000 civil servants including Border Force staff – said it would co-ordinate with other unions to cause ‘chaos’. 

Yesterday the RMT warned that another round of industrial action was ‘highly likely’ and accused rail bosses of failing to table an improved offer. 

The union called off three 24-hour walkouts at the eleventh hour earlier this month as hopes of a breakthrough grew and both sides entered ‘intensive talks’.

General Secretary of the RMT, Mick Lynch addresses the audience during a rally. Union chiefs threatened chaos on the railways over Christmas as talks over pay and job security faltered

Banks and supermarkets are facing a festive cash crisis as 1,200 G4S security staff become the latest workers to strike. File image of a G4S van 

Commercial Services Union (PCS) protest outside the Houses of Parliament in London on November 10. Around 100,000 civil servants have voted for a national strike over pay, pensions and jobs

The economy is estimated to have taken a £600million hit so far because of the RMT strikes. Pictured, commuters turn to buses or cars to get to work on November 10

Huge crowds wait for buses outside Monument stations amid growing congestion around the city on November 10 following a tube strike

But general secretary Mick Lynch last night said talks with Network Rail had stalled. He said the bosses of 14 train firms involved in the dispute had also failed to make a formal offer in writing despite nearly six months of talks.

The RMT secured a fresh six-month mandate for strikes last week, meaning walkouts could continue into next summer.

It is expected to target the Christmas and New Year holiday period to inflict maximum damage at one of the most lucrative times of year for businesses and when families travel to see loved ones.

Mr Lynch said last night: ‘We have been patient and have shown good faith which has not been returned.’

The economy is estimated to have taken a £600million hit so far because of the RMT strikes. The TSSA rail union last night said it would continue talks.

Passengers were already facing severe disruption due to line closures for £120million of engineering works over the festive period. Network Rail will carry out 300 engineering projects, meaning all services from London Liverpool Street have been cancelled.

There will also be no Southern services from London Victoria.

Tube trains are stacked at Neasden London Underground Train Depot on November 10 after another walkout in London

This graph shows the Royal College of Nursing’s demands for a 5 per cent above inflation pay rise for the bands covered by its membership which includes healthcare assistants and nurses. Estimates based on NHS Employers data

Train drivers at 12 operators are to stage a fresh strike in the long-running dispute over pay, threatening more travel chaos across the country.

Members of Aslef will walk out on November 26 after the union said it was still waiting for a pay offer from the employers, despite a series of talks.

General secretary Mick Whelan said: ‘We regret that passengers will be inconvenienced for another day. We don’t want to be taking this action. Withdrawing our labour is always a last resort for a trade union.

‘We have come to the table, as we always will, in good faith but while the industry continues to make no offer – due to the dodgy deal they signed with the Department for Transport – we have no choice but to take strike action again.

‘They want drivers to take a real terms pay cut. With inflation now well into double figures, train drivers who kept Britain moving through the pandemic are now being expected to work just as hard this year as last year but for less. Most of these drivers have not had an increase in salary since 2019.

‘We want the companies – which are making huge profits – to make a proper pay offer so that our members can keep up with the cost of living.’

The 12 companies facing the fresh strike are Avanti West Coast; Chiltern Railways; CrossCountry; East Midlands Railway; Great Western Railway; Greater Anglia; London North Eastern Railway; London Overground; Northern Trains; Southeastern; Transpennine Express, and West Midlands Trains.

Aslef members have taken a series of strikes in recent months, while the RMT and TSSA unions are also still embroiled in industrial disputes.

Liverpool Street will be closed from Christmas Day until January 2 as the work, including bridge reconstruction and track maintenance, is carried out.

Greater Anglia, Stansted Express and c2c services will be hit by the shutdown. Southern and Gatwick Express services to or from Victoria will also be suspended over the same period. Many services will be redirected to London Bridge.

Avanti West Coast services between London Euston and Glasgow, which stop at Manchester and Birmingham, will run on a reduced timetable from Christmas Eve to December 30.

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents operators, said: ‘Any strikes will only cause further misery for customers and struggling businesses.’

Last week the PCS said the legal threshold for industrial action had been reached in 126 separate areas, covering workers including driving test examiners, border force officials and Jobcentre staff. Around 100,000 civil servants have voted to strike in a dispute over pay, pensions and jobs.

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) said the legal threshold for industrial action had been reached in 126 separate areas, covering workers including driving test examiners, border force officials and Jobcentre staff.

General secretary Mark Serwotka said: ‘The government must look at the huge vote for strike action across swathes of the Civil Service and realise it can no longer treat its workers with contempt.

‘Our members have spoken and if the government fails to listen to them, we’ll have no option than to launch a prolonged programme of industrial action reaching into every corner of public life.

‘Civil servants have willingly and diligently played a vital role in keeping the country running during the pandemic but enough is enough.

‘The stress of working in the civil service, under the pressure of the cost-of-living crisis, job cuts and office closures means they’ve reached the end of their tethers.

‘We are calling on the government to respond positively to our members’ demands. They have to give our members a 10 per cent pay rise, job security, pensions justice and protected redundancy terms.’

On November 9, thousands of nurses across Britain voted to strike for the first time, leading to fears that death rates will rise if the walkouts spread. Strikes are expected to begin in early December and could take place over two dates, potentially a Tuesday and a Thursday. They could last until early May 2023.

The vote was the first time the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has balloted its more than 300,000 members in its 106-year history.

Health insiders fear lives will be lost as a result, with a ‘bank holiday service’ causing delays and cancellations of routine treatment and operations.

But RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said: ‘We don’t intend to place any patient at further risk during the strike. We will manage that safely and effectively.’

Health Secretary Steve Barclay said the strike was ‘disappointing’ and nurses’ demands were ‘out of step’ with the economic pressures facing the country.

No10 also said the vote was ‘deeply regrettable’, emphasising it would cost £9billion to meet the RCN’s pay request, which ‘in the current climate is simply not deliverable’.

The Fair Pay for Nursing campaign is demanding a pay rise of five per cent above inflation.

NHS hospitals will do all they can to ‘minimise harm to patients’ if nurses go on strike, a national health leader has said, adding that industrial action is about more than pay.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents most NHS organisations, said there are national and regional plans to minimise the impact on patients, but admitted operations and appointments will have to be cancelled or postponed.

G4S has been approached for comment by the PA news agency.

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