• Thu. May 30th, 2024

Who’s on strike in Scotland? Your guide to strikes in February and March

ByJack Davies

Feb 13, 2023
A group of picketers stand with an FBU trade union sign

Workers across various sectors in Scotland are set to take strike action in February, continuing the recent UK strike wave.

Here are the groups of workers taking strike action in the following months.

Universities 

The University and College Union’s (UCU) 18 days of strikes in February and March continue. 

Seven Scottish universities are striking over pay and conditions and eight more are striking over pay, conditions and pensions.

Jo Grady, the UCU general secretary, said in a statement:

“The university sector in the UK has over £40bn sitting in reserves, but instead of using that vast wealth to deliver a cost-of-living pay rise and reverse devastating pension cuts, university vice-chancellors would rather force staff to take strike action and see campuses shut down.”

The union is requesting a substantial improvement on the current 4 to 5 per cent pay offer.

Members will begin re-balloting for further strikes. 

The remaining strike dates are: 

  • 14, 15 and 16 February 
  • 21, 22 and 23 February
  • 27 and 28 February
  • 1 and 2 March
  • 16 and 17 March
  • 20, 21 and 22 March

Civil servants 

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) announced a 24-hour strike on 15 March. 

This follows the strike of 21 Scottish departments and 123 departments nationally on 1 February.

PCS represents a number of government employees at Education Scotland, Transport Scotland and the National Galleries of Scotland.

It is campaigning for improved job security, pensions, redundancy terms and a 10 per cent pay rise. 

The strike will take place on the same day that the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, will unveil his spring budget.

Government departments, including HMRC, are currently being balloted for strike action.

Schools

Scotland’s teachers organised under the Educational Institute Scotland (EIS) union will be striking nationally on 28 February and 1 March.

EIS will also hold 20 days of rolling strikes across local authorities from 13 March to 21 April. 

This marks an escalation in their pay dispute which has remained unsettled since February 2021. 

EIS general secretary, Andrea Bradley, has said that “the offer of a 9 per cent real-terms pay cut, which is what is on the table, will never be acceptable.”

“The Scottish Government and COSLA have dithered, delayed and dragged their feet while the cost of living has continued to soar.”

Strike action will be targeted to constituencies of key decision-makers, including First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, on 22-24 February and 7-9 March.

Airport staff 

After rejecting a 5 per cent pay offer, Unite workers at all 11 Highlands and Islands Airport Ltd. (HIAL) airports will go on strike in February. 

The staff on strike include security staff, baggage handlers, ground crew and other airport workers.

Workers at Dundee Airport will strike on 17 and 20 February.

HIAL’s 10 other airports, including Inverness Airport, will be affected from 21 to 22 February.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said:

“Strike action is now inevitable at all 11 airports and this is entirely the fault of airport management and the Scottish Government. 

“Unite will fully support our members in the fight for better jobs, pay and conditions across the Highlands and Islands.”

HIAL managing director Inglis Lyon has urged anyone travelling on these dates to contact their airline and is working with Transport Scotland to resolve the dispute.

Oil workers 

Petrofac workers on BP offshore installations in the North Sea will undertake rounds of 48-hour strike action until 3 March over pay and conditions. 

The move comes after negotiations broke down over shift rota disputes. 

BP announced earlier this month that its profits had doubled to £23 billion in 2022 after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

NHS Scotland

Strike plans are currently paused while the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), Royal College of Midwifery (RCM) and GMB union attempt to negotiate a pay deal with the Scottish Government. 

The proposals by the Scottish Government pre-empted the announcement of strikes in the sector. 

Pat Cullen, the RCN general secretary, welcomed the Government’s “willingness to return to the negotiating table and to act to address the nursing workforce crisis.”

“Our members in Scotland are being listened to and the First Minister is in no doubt that we will take strike action if the proposals being outlined do not deliver a significant improvement by the end of February.”

Rail workers

Rail unions ASLEF and RMT are set to take strike action on 1 and 3 February, affecting non-Scotrail train services in Scotland.

Although the current ballot lasts until May, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch has told the i Paper that balloting for another six months of strikes is “a possibility.”

The RMT is currently considering an industry trade group proposal for a 9 per cent pay rise over two years. 

Postal workers

A mid-February strike by postal workers under the Communication Workers Union (CWU) was recently called off after Royal Mail raised a legal challenge.

The postal service took issue with the wording of the strike notification issued by CWU, which it says discussed issues not mentioned in the original strike ballot.

Further, Royal Mail contended that the planned strike would impact work on 18 February, a date not covered by the strike notification.

In a newsletter to members, the CWU attacked laws restricting unions that are “heavily weighted against working people.”

The union will return to negotiations with Royal Mail but said that “[i]f talks fail, we will significantly step up the programme of strike action.”

Fire services

An expected strike was postponed by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) after Scottish Fire and Rescue Service employers put forward a revised pay offer. 

The offer, revised from 2 per cent, is for 7 per cent backdated to 1 July 2022 and a further 5 per cent increase from 1 July 2023.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said:

“While the offer is improved from last year, it still amounts to a real terms pay cut.

“88 per cent of firefighters voted for industrial [action] in our ballot. The mandate for strike action by firefighters remains.”

FBU strike picket outside Sprowston fire Station, Norwich” by Roger Blackwell is licensed under CC BY 2.0