TUC leader says coordinated strikes ‘absolutely make sense’

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The TUC secretary general has raised the possibility of accelerating industrial action this year, saying coordinated strikes “absolutely make sense”.

Paul Nowak, who recently took over as Britain’s top union leader, urged Rishi Sunak to take responsibility, “do what’s right” and facilitate wage negotiations, rather than continuing to use the government’s salary review bodies as a “human shield”.

“I think he [the prime minister] “He forgot the value of sitting down and reaching an agreement and getting ideas from people outside his cabinet,” Nowak said.

Members of the Rail, Shipping and Transport union at Network Rail and 14 other train operators take the stage on the second day of the first 48-hour strike of the year. On Thursday, train drivers who are members of the Aslef union will go on a 24-hour strike, the midday between the two phases of RMT action.

Much of Britain’s rail network will be down, with around a fifth of trains expected to run, leaving only a skeleton service for many passengers.

Paul Nowak

Paul Nowak said the Prime Minister had “forgotten the value of sitting down and reaching an agreement”. Photo: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian

“It’s a really tough decision for any worker going on strike, they’re losing their wages, they can’t provide the services they’re proud to offer,” Nowak said.

“So it’s my responsibility to our unions, when members make this difficult decision, we must ensure that this action is as effective and as effective as possible.”

When asked whether coordinated strike action with other unions and industries would be a method of maximizing impact, Nowak added: “For example, I think it certainly makes sense in education and health, where there are many different unions. Unions coordinate our actions to talk to each other about how we support each other.” However, he suggested that this does not mean that all public sector workers will strike on the same day.

In a letter to Sunak on Wednesday, Nowak said public services were in crisis after “underfunded and understaffed” that prompted experienced but demoralized public sector workers in industries such as schools and hospitals to consider resigning.

Calling Sunak to lead the wage negotiations, the union chief said: “The government is using independent review bodies as human shields and I think it is in danger of discrediting these bodies. When these bodies came together and gave their advice, we did not see inflation at 10-11%. ”

Downing Street has previously said that the prime minister does not need to be personally involved and that it is not the government’s job to be involved in salary negotiations.

Nowak believes the public is fully aware of who is responsible for the ongoing strikes. In an interview with the Guardian before taking on his new role, he said: “The government will have to take responsibility. The public will clearly identify where the responsibility lies.

“Maybe they’ll try to extend it until spring and budget, but I don’t think our members are going to sit quietly and wait for this to come. I don’t think promises of jam tomorrow will cut people off.”

But some fear the strikes are undermining public trust and confidence in the railroads. Transport Focus CEO Anthony Smith said:[The strikes] It will undermine the incoming income that underpins continued investment, which is key to the development of transport services. If people think I’ll try to buy a car instead… they won’t go back to traveling by train.”

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