A planned post-Christmas strike by ambulance workers in the GMB union next week has been suspended.
Members of the union were due to walk out on December 28 in an increasingly bitter dispute over pay and staffing.
The GMB said there was “incredible” support during industrial action by the union and members of Unite and Unison on Wednesday.
Rachel Harrison, GMB national secretary, says:
“We are overwhelmed by Wednesday’s amazing public support for our paramedics and ambulance staff.
“People across the country have been wonderful in backing us and we care so much about them too.
“That’s why we are suspending the proposed GMB industrial action on December 28.
“We know the public will appreciate being able to enjoy Christmas without any additional anxiety. They support us and we support them.”
She added: “The workforce crisis in our NHS is so severe and our commitment to getting ambulance staff the proper pay they deserve is stronger than ever, so we are scheduling a further date for action on January 11 2023.
Harrison adds that “The incredible British public” are the reason the union is suspending our action over the Christmas period, and she urges ministers to negotiate over pay.
It also means the Government can now do what ambulance workers and the public want – get round the table and talk pay now.
“We are here 24/7. Any time, any place.
“Over to you, [Health Secretary] Steve Barclay. Everyone is waiting.”
More strike news: Thousands of nurses in Britain will go on strike again next month.
The Royal College of Nurses has announced that its members will strike again on Wednesday 18 January and Thursday 19 January – for fair pay and patient safety.
Further dates will be confirmed in the new year, the RCN adds.
The decision follows last week’s strike, involving nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The RCN says ministers have the power to stop strikes but have failed to open negotiations on NHS pay.
RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive Pat Cullen explains:
“The Government had the opportunity to end this dispute before Christmas but instead they have chosen to push nursing staff out into the cold again in January.
“I do not wish to prolong this dispute, but the Prime Minister has left us with no choice.”
Around 6 in 10 (60%) adults are planning on cutting back on the amount of money they spent this Christmas season compared with last year, the Office for National Statistics reports.
The ONS’s latest survey on “Public opinions and social trends” found that people will be buying less festive food, and also buying fewer presents.
Of adults who reported cutting back their spending over the Christmas season, the most frequently reported ways adults were planning to spend less money were: buying fewer presents (79%), buying less expensive presents (73%), buying less expensive food and drink (62%), eating out less (58%) or buying less food and drink (56%).
The survey also asked people about the important issues facing the UK today. The most commonly reported issues continue to be: the cost of living (93%), the NHS (81%), the economy (78%), and climate change and the environment (58%).
Over 9 in 10 adults reported their cost of living had increased compared with a year ago, while 76% reported an increase in their cost of living compared with one month ago.
A quarter of adults are struggling to keep warm in their own homes (as we reported earlier this month).
Labour MP Yvette Cooperthe shadow home secretary, says today’s dispute is “yet another sign of failure by ministers”:
Border Force workers are taking part in a picket near Heathrow Airport:
Labour MP John McDonnell has joined them:
Train passengers are being urged to only travel on Christmas Eve if their journey is “absolutely necessary” as a strike will decimate services.
A walkout by thousands of members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at Network Rail means Britain’s railways will shut down early, and some routes will have no trains all day.
Network Rail has said trains will stop running at around 3pm on Christmas Eve, PA Media reports.
The early closure means the last departures on some long-distance routes will be before 1pm.
Examples of last train times include 10.45am for Leeds to London, 11am for London to Edinburgh and 12.48pm for London to Manchester.
East Midlands Railway will only run an “extremely limited service” between London St Pancras and Corby, meaning there will be no trains on routes such as London St Pancras-Sheffield and London St Pancras-Nottingham.
No South Western Railway trains will run on several routes to and from London Waterloo, including Reading, Twickenham and Dorking.
Chiltern Railways will not operate any trains to or from Oxford, or north of Banbury.
The Border Force strike comes as airlines brace for their busiest Christmas in three years.
victoria scholarhead of investment at interactive investorpoints out that some airlines have had a rough year on the stock market, despite the relaxation of Covid restrictions.
“Border Force workers will go on strike today, adding to the chorus of staff who are frustrated that pay is being eroded by inflation, prompting the summer-turned-winter of discontent. They are also walking out over conditions and pensions.
Around 1000 Border Force workers are staging industrial action from 23rd until 26th December and from 28th until 31st December, likely to cause significant disruption to international travel during the busy festive period and school holidays. After recent years of subdued international travel because of the pandemic, this Christmas is expected to see the highest passenger volumes since pre-covid in 2019.
Shares in Ryanair are under pressure while EasyJet and British Airways’ parent company IAG are also trading slightly lower.
2022 was meant to be the comeback year for travel stocks but problems with baggage handling, cancellations, strikes and general disruption have prompted these stocks to slide, on track to end the year sharply lower.
EasyJet is down by nearly 45% year-to-date and Wizz Air is down 57%.”
A severe traffic warning has been issued as millions of drivers embark on Christmas getaway journeys, PA Media reports.
The RAC, which expects 7.9 million leisure journeys to be made across the UK on Friday and Christmas Eve combined, published the alert for a stretch of the M25 orbital motorway.
Congestion on the clockwise section between junction seven for the M23 and junction 16 for the M40 is expected to peak at 12.30pm on Friday, when delays of around 50 minutes are likely.
Other roads where long queues are expected on Friday include the M60 near Manchester, the M6 in north-west England and the M40 in Oxfordshire.
Junction four of the M20 westbound in Kent remains closed on Friday morning after a serious crash on Thursday.
National Highways said vehicles are being diverted on to exit and entry slip roads, causing three miles of congestion and delays of at least 45 minutes.
Drivers in Wales and southern England are also battling with heavy rain, which the Met Office said will spread northwards to reach southern Scotland and Northern Ireland during Friday afternoon.
Guy Hobbseditor of Which? Travelhas advice for passengers who experience disruption due to the Border Force strikes.
“If your flight is cancelled or delayed as a result of strike action by border force staff, you are unlikely to be eligible for compensation as these events are considered outside of the airline’s control. However, your airline still has a duty of care to you – and if your flight is cancelled you have a right to a refund or to be re-routed as soon as possible, even if that means flying with a rival carrier.
“If you are significantly delayed, usually by two hours or more, your airline should provide assistance including free meals or refreshments, or overnight accommodation if required. If your flight is delayed by more than five hours, you have the same rights as if you had suffered a cancellation, and can request a refund or rebooking.”
Glasgow Airport has said it doesn’t anticipate any ‘significant challenges’ to passengers due to the Border Force staff strike – with extra staff on hand to help with any disruption.