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NHS workers confirm more ambulance strikes – live

Related: Ambulance strike to go ahead as talks fail to break deadlock

Ambulance workers in Unison will stage two further strikes on January 11 and 23 in their dispute over pay and staffing, the union has announced.

NHS ambulance staff belonging to three unions walked out on Wednesday, and a second strike is scheduled for 28 December.

Services across the UK are already being hit by industrial action in other sectors, including the Border Force, National Highways and rail workers, causing chaos for anyone trying to travel for Christmas.

The AA has warned that driving home for Christmas may become a traffic nightmare as the rail strikes push more people onto the roads – just as National Highways workers and control centre staff walk out.

The motorists’ organisation has issued an amber traffic warning for Friday and Christmas Eve, and experts are urging drivers to set their Christmas travel plans in motion “as soon as possible”.

The four-day strike by National Highways workers from today until Christmas Day coincides with fresh rail walkouts.

Some services will stop early tomorrow before national strikes from Saturday, Christmas Eve.

As workers prepared to walk out, the government announced regulated rail fares will rise by up to 5.9% next year.


Union dismisses fast-track pay deal plan

Ambulance workers’ union Unison has dismissed the government’s idea of fast-tracking a pay deal next year for striking NHS workers.

General secretary Christina McAnea said: “It’s only through talks that this dispute will end. No health workers want to go out on strike again in the new year.

“But accusing NHS staff of making a conscious decision to inflict harm on the public by taking action this week was not the health secretary’s finest hour…

“Speeding up next year’s pay review body process won’t solve the current dispute, which is about the pitiful amount the government gave health workers this year.

“The Government must stop using the pay review body as cover for its own inaction. This year’s pay rise simply wasn’t enough to halt the exodus of staff from the NHS.”

Sources close to health secretary Steve Barclay said sometimes it could take time for NHS staff to see the benefit of any pay rise in their wages but that he would seek to encourage those involved in the process to ensure this did not happen.

Jane Dalton22 December 2022 17:39


Opinion: There’s no point telling Brits not to get ‘blind drunk’

ICYMI: Even when the NHS strikes end, maybe moderation in drinking is the way forward. It’s good for the NHS, for all the emergency services, for families, relationships and our own health, writes Harriet Williamson:

Jane Dalton22 December 2022 17:25


Ambulance staff to walk out again next month

Ambulance workers in Unison will stage two further strikes on January 11 and 23 in their dispute over pay and staffing, the union has announced.

Jane Dalton22 December 2022 17:05


Shapps warns fuel retailers of watchdog prices investigation

Business secretary Grant Shapps has called on fuel giants to give motorists “a fair deal”.

In a letter to retailers he said it was concerning that margins – profits – had risen year on year, ahead of general inflation.

Encouraging them to pass on savings to consumers, he warns that the Competition and Markets Authority will be investigating.

Jane Dalton22 December 2022 17:01


North Sea rig workers strike

Workers have started a 24-hour walkout at offshore rigs.

Petrofac workers on Repsol installations in the North Sea started their two-day strike on Thursday, Unite said, with a warning of more walkouts to come.

Sharon Graham, the union’s general secretary, said the 170 workers involved are taking the “latest action due to a series of unacceptable pay offers”.

She added: “Unite’s members are watching offshore oil and gas giants mount up eye-watering profits.”

Platforms affected include Arbroath, Auk, Bleo Holm, Claymore, Clyde, Fulmar Alpha, Piper Bravo, Saltire, Tartan Alpha, and Flotta oil terminal.

The union also said a further strike will hit the Montrose platform between December 29 and 31.

Unite said the dispute centred on the “removal of a 10% equal time payment, years of below inflationary pay increases, as well as issues around payments for Offshore Energies UK medicals, mileage and stand-in duties”.

As part of a separate dispute, Petrofac workers at BP installations Andrew, Clair, Clair Ridge, ETAP, and Glen Lyon floating production, storage and offloading facility, will begin a 48-hour strike on December 29 to 31.

Jane Dalton22 December 2022 16:40


Simon Calder answers your travel questions

Happening now: Simon Calder answers your travel questions:

Jane Dalton22 December 2022 16:17


Road journeys ‘to be 14% longer this year’

Road traffic analysts expect journey times on main roads to be around 14% longer than the same period last year.

Roads likely to be hit by congestion include the M25, the M60 near Manchester, the M6 in north-west England and the M40 in Oxfordshire.

National Highways said almost 98% of England’s motorways and major A-roads will be fully open until the end of January 2 due to it completing and lifting roadworks.

AA head of roads policy Jack Cousens said: “We are advising those heading out in their cars to be prepared for some congestion, especially on popular routes heading out of London.

“The rail strikes have convinced more people to travel by car this year, and while hundreds of miles of roadworks have been removed to ease the pain, it might not be enough to keep the queues away.”

RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said there will be “two frantic days of travelling just before Christmas”.

Inrix transportation analyst Bob Pishue predicted journeys would be 14% longer, saying: “With pre-pandemic levels of travellers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays – especially in and around major cities.”

Jane Dalton22 December 2022 16:05


Boxing Day rail services to be hit

Most trains do not run on Christmas Day and Boxing Day anyway, but anyone who might have hoped to travel by rail on the 25 and 26 December will be hit by strikes, reports Joe Sommerlad:

Jane Dalton22 December 2022 15:50


Long traffic jams predicted before Christmas

Drivers are being warned to prepare for long queues as millions of people embark on journeys to spend Christmas with friends and family.

The AA said Friday would be the busiest day on the roads this week, with an estimated 16.9 million journeys being made across the UK.

A further 16.6 million journeys are expected to be made on Christmas Eve, Saturday.

Congestion will be increased due to a strike by thousands of members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at Network Rail causing train services to finish at around 3pm on Saturday.

The RAC said roads would be busiest on Friday – the last working day before Christmas – between 10am and 7pm.

Rain is forecast for the day, making driving riskier than usual.

Jane Dalton22 December 2022 15:35


Scottish island airports shut by strike

Three Scottish island airports are closed for the second time this week as workers also take strike action in a dispute over pay.

Barra, Benbecula, and Sumburgh airports shut on Thursday after members of the Unite union walked out.

Bosses at Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (Hial) said Stornoway Airport on the Isle of Lewis would be open from 1pm to 7.45pm and Kirkwall Airport on Orkney will open from 7.15am to 1pm, and only for inter-island flights.

Union members rejected the 5% pay rise they have been offered, with almost three-quarters (73.5%) backing strikes in a ballot.

Inglis Lyon, Hial managing director, has previously apologised for the disruption, saying: “We deeply regret the disruption and inconvenience to our airline partners, passengers, and local communities that this action will cause.

“Against the backdrop of unprecedented financial pressures, we presented an enhanced pay offer to colleagues that maximised the flexibility within the Scottish Government’s pay policy, which Hial is bound by.

“We recognise the challenges colleagues face due to inflationary pressures and the cost-of-living crisis. However, the claim for a rise of at least RPI is unrealistic, and any further offer must be met from cost savings within existing budgets.”

Unite confirmed that medical and other emergencies will be serviced from all Hial airports on both days.

Jane Dalton22 December 2022 15:12

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