Strikes: Who is taking industrial action in 2023 and when? | UK News

Hundreds of thousands of workers have been striking on budget day in what was predicted to be the largest walkout since the current wave of industrial action started last year.

As Chancellor Jeremy Hunt was due to reveal his spring budget on Wednesday, hundreds of picket lines were mounted across the country over continuing anger about pay, jobs and conditions.

Teachers, junior doctors, regional BBC journalists, university lecturers, civil servants and London Underground drivers began strike action in what is expected to be the biggest day of industrial action so far since last action began towards the end of last year.

Read more: What to expect from the spring budget

Before Wednesday, February saw the UK’s biggest day of industrial action in more than a decade as teachers, university staff, train drivers, civil servants, bus drivers and security guards all went on strike.

More workers over the coming months have agreed on industrial action as the government insists it cannot give them inflation-matching pay rises.

Some sectors like the NHS have called off strikes as they are in talks with the government.

Sky News looks at which industries are set to strike, when they will take place and why.


As part of the biggest day of nhs industrial action ever, ambulance crews and call handlers joined nurses across England in a coordinated walkout on 6 February.

Further national and regional strikes are scheduled for later this month and in March.

junior doctors

13, 14 and 15 March 2023 – Junior doctors who are members of the British Medical Association will walk out for 72 hours

More than 98% of junior doctors who took part in the ballot voted to strike, with the BMA recording a record turnout of 77.5%.

Talks between the BMA and Health Secretary Steve Barclay at the start of March did not improve matters.

The union said the secretary of state “refused to come forth with any improved offer.”

Their action is still on for the time being.

Ambulance staff

20 March – National strikes by Unite members

The regions affected are:

• West Midlands
• North East
•East Midlands
•North West

Ambulance workers at Unison and GMB called off their March strike dates in England in order to enter talks with the government.

Rachel Harrison, GMB national secretary, said: “GMB ambulance workers announced a tightening of the derogations for cover on strike days.

“Less than 24 hours later we received a letter from the Secretary of State for Health, Steve Barclay, inviting us and other unions to pay talks.

“This is a huge shift from the government, who for months have refused to consider negotiations on pay.”

About 25,000 paramedics, emergency care assistants, ambulance technicians, call handlers and other 999 crew members from the Unison, GMB and Unite unions walked out across England and Wales in December.

Members were striking over pay, patient safety and staffing levels, with unions saying staff shortages are crippling services every day, putting patients at risk due to the government’s failure to invest in growing demand.

GMB and Unite members in Wales suspended their strike on 6 February after receiving a new pay offer from the Welsh government.

Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) on the picket line outside the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham


Nurses went on strike on the 6 and 7 of February, which followed strikes in December and January, with the Royal College of Nursing warning action will continue until the government listens to their demands.

The RCN had announced that its members would stage a continuous 48-hour strike from 6am on 1 March, with no services exempt.

And it would for the first time involve nursing staff working in emergency departments, intensive care units, cancer care and other services that previously did not take part.

However, a joint statement from the RCN and the Department of Health and Social Care revealed they would be pausing the strikes while fresh talks went ahead.

Unison also paused strike action due to 8 March to enter talks with the government.

Members of the RCN are calling for a pay rise of 5% above inflation – 19.2% – as they claim they have had a real terms pay cut of 20% since 2010.

They also want better working conditions as nursing vacancies are at a record high, saying this means staff are stretched and regularly working beyond their shifts without extra pay.

RCN leader Pat Cullen has said she is willing to meet the government “half-way”, but Health Secretary Steve Barclay has said a 10% pay rise is still unaffordable.

In Wales, the union has canceled the planned strikes after receiving a new pay offer from the Welsh government.

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A 10% pay rise for NHS nurses is ‘not affordable’, says the health secretary.


Physiotherapists from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) went on strike on 26 January and 9 Feb.

More than 4,000 physiotherapists employed by 30 NHS trusts across England are thought to have taken part.

The CSP had been due to walk out on 22 March – but has suspended action in order to enter talks with the government.


16, 18 and 30 March and 1 April – The Rail Maritime and Transport Union has announced that its members working for 14 train operating companies will walk out on these dates

London Underground drivers, represented by Aslef, and other tube workers, represented by the RMT, have also announced they will strike on 15 March – the day chancellor Jeremy Hunt is set to deliver his budget – in a dispute over pensions, job losses and working arrangements.

civil servants

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union is leading the charge for workers to take industrial action on budget day.

15 March – 133,000 civil servants from the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union

6-28 March – 1,600 driving test examiners will hold 10 days of industrial action

About 133,000 civil servants from the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union are to strike on budget day in an escalation of a dispute over pay, pensions and job security.

Driving test examiners also announced 10 strike days taking place between 6 and 28 March in a dispute over pay, pensions and jobs. More than 1,600 members of the PCS employed by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency will take rolling days of industrial action.

It follows another mass strike on 1 February that saw hundreds of thousands of members in 123 government departments walk out across England, Scotland and Wales.

Previous action has involved Border Force staff and National Highways workers – but the PCS is balloting another 30,000 members working for 10 more employers, including HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Welsh government, with the results expected at the end of the month.

The PCS union is calling for a 10% pay rise, protections to pensions and protections from job cuts.

The government has said the demands – which it says would cost £2.4bn – are unaffordable.


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Teachers ‘have nothing left’

The National Education took part in three days of consecutive strikes between 28 February and 2 March, but more dates are still on the cards.

15-16 March – NEU teachers across England and Wales

Thousands of teachers across England and Wales went on strike on 1 February, with many more due to over February and March after the largest education union reached the threshold required to take industrial action.

The National Education Union (NEU) organized a ballot of 300,000 members, calling for a “fully funded, above-inflation pay rise”.

The Department for Education has offered to hold fresh talks with the union if they pause the strikes.

In response, the NEU said it would consider recommending stopping strike action if a “serious proposal” was brought to the table, but it has not happened yet,

On days of action, some schools will be closed entirely while others will not be impacted – but headteachers will let parents know if they are affected.

A planned strike by teachers belonging to the National Education Union due to be held in Wales on 14 February was postponed after a new pay offer was received but the NEU rejected the offer so is striking in March instead.

Scottish teachers

Rolling strikes were set to take place for much of March and into April across schools in Scotland.

But the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) called this off on 3 March, when they recommended members accept a revised pay offer from the Scottish government.

Members of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) join teachers at a rally outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh in a protest over pay
Members of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) join teachers at a rally outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh in a protest over pay

university staff

16-17, 20-22 March – university staff with the University College Union (UCU)

More than 70,000 staff at 150 universities will strike on several days throughout February and March.

The UCU is in dispute with those universities over the pay, pensions and working conditions.

It wants a higher pay offer than the 4% to 5% put on the table as well as a reversal of the cuts to pensions that will see the average member lose 35% of their guaranteed future retirement income, according to the union.

The union is also reballoting its members to take further action this academic year.

Environment Agency

Environment Agency workers who were members of Unison and Prospect went on strike between the 7 and 9 of February.

The unions say workers have had a 9% fall in pay compared with inflation since 2016 and 20% since 2010 which is causing many staff to leave.

They have rejected a 2% pay rise as “simply not enough”.


Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) overwhelmingly voted for action in a ballot that would have resulted in the UK’s first nationwide fire service strike over pay since 2003.

But on 6 March, the union announced it was halting the strike, which did not yet have a date, after 96% of members who took part in a ballot voted in favor of a new pay offer negotiated with employers the month before.

They have voted to accept a 7% pay rise backdated to July 2022 and another 5% increase from July this year.

The union said they have had more than a decade of real-terms pay cuts and the new offer was a “significant shift” from a previous offer of just 2% – but said the backdated pay would still be a real-terms pay cut.

Royal Mail

A two-day strike by postal workers planned for 16 and 17 February was called off following a legal challenge by Royal Mail.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) blamed laws that are “heavily weighted against working people” for scrapping the planned walkouts.

A new wave of strikes is looming after the union secured a fresh mandate for industrial action.

The CWU announced that 95.9% of its members had voted in favor of renewed strikes on a 77% turnout, although it has so far stopped short of announcing new strike dates.

The CWU has been locked in dispute with Royal Mail since autumn with members staging 18 days of strikes in the second half of 2022 over pay, jobs and conditions.

Members have been fighting proposed modernization plans they say would “spell the end” of Royal Mail and want an improved pay deal on the “best and final” 9% offer they rejected last year.

The dispute has become increasingly bitter and personal, with company and union leaders at each others’ throats in a public battle for sympathy.


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