Strikes Erupt Across UK Over Unpaid Covid Bonuses and Working Conditions

Multiple strikes are taking place across the UK's healthcare, energy, and public sectors, involving thousands of workers from institutions such as Barts Health NHS Trust, Nottinghamshire hospitals, and National Museums Liverpool, demanding fair pay, unpaid Covid bonuses, and improved working conditions amidst economic uncertainty and rising costs of living." This description focuses on the primary topic of the strikes, the main entities involved (workers and institutions), the context of economic uncertainty, and the significant actions and demands of the workers. It provides objective and relevant details that will help an AI generate an accurate visual representation of the article's content, such as images of picket lines, protesters holding signs, or healthcare workers in uniform.

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Nitish Verma
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Strikes Erupt Across UK Over Unpaid Covid Bonuses and Working Conditions

Strikes Erupt Across UK Over Unpaid Covid Bonuses and Working Conditions

Multiple strikes are taking place across the UK over unpaid Covid bonuses, pay, and working conditions at various institutions, including Barts Health NHS Trust, Nottinghamshire hospitals, Mersey and West Lancashire NHS Trust, Dounreay power station, Barnet mental health services, National Museums Liverpool, and the Office for National Statistics.

Why this matters: The widespread strikes across the UK's healthcare, energy, and public sectors highlight the deep-seated dissatisfaction among workers who feel undervalued and undercompensated, which could have long-term consequences for the stability and effectiveness of these critical industries. As the UK grapples with economic uncertainty and rising costs of living, the outcome of these disputes may set a precedent for future labor negotiations and influence the broader national conversation around workers' rights and fair compensation.

At Barts Health NHS Trust, nearly 700 porters, cleaners, and facilities workers in the Unite union have been on strike since last week, demanding the £1,655 Covid bonus owed to them. The strike is set to continue until Sunday, May 19. Barts Health NHS trust has refused to pay the bonus, citing that many workers were in the process of being transferred back to the NHS from outsourcing company Serco. In a bid to end the dispute, Barts offered an additional four days of annual leave this year and next year, which the union deemed "an insult" and "nowhere near an equivalent" to the amount owed.

Over 200 NHS workers at three Nottinghamshire hospitals are set to strike for 24 hours this Friday over unpaid Covid bonuses. The GMB union members, who work for subcontractor Medirest, are furious after the company refused the bonus, citing that the government did not fund it for workers not directly employed by the NHS. Medirest's parent firm, the Compass Group, made profits of over £2 billion last year.

At the Mersey and West Lancashire NHS Trust, over 700 healthcare assistants (HCAs) in the Unison union voted by 99.9% to strike to win thousands of pounds of backpay. The HCAs were wrongly placed in band 2 of the NHS pay scale, resulting in them being paid around £1,000 a year less than they should have been. Most NHS Trusts have admitted to underpaying their staff and have re-banded them, but bosses are holding out on the number of years of back pay compensation they will agree to.

Over 500 workers at Nuclear Restoration Services Limited based at Dounreay power station in Scotland are set to strike this week. The Unite union members voted by 80% to strike on a 92% turnout, rejecting an offer of a one-off £500 payment on top of a 4.5% pay increase. The workers want a pay rise above inflation, citing the RPI inflation rate of 11.4% when the pay increase was due in April 2023.

Barnet mental health social workers in north London walked out again for three weeks on Monday, following 37 days of action. The Unison union members are battling the Labour-led council over three demands: a safe service, lower waiting lists, and fair pay. The workers want a retention payment like other social workers, which they say will stop experienced workers leaving and reduce waiting lists.

Museum workers in Liverpool are continuing their fight for a cost of living payment. Last week, only three of National Museums Liverpool's seven sites were open, with the employer being the only one out of 207 not to pay the £1,500 cost of living payment.

According to the latest labour market statistics released on May 14, 2024, the number of payrolled employees in the UK fell by 5,000 between February and March 2024, but rose by 288,000 between March 2023 and March 2024. The UK employment rate for people aged 16-64 years was estimated at 74.5% in January to March 2024, below estimates of a year ago. The UK unemployment rate for people aged 16 years and over was estimated at 4.3% in January to March 2024, above estimates of a year ago. There were an estimated 22,000 working days lost due to labour disputes across the UK in March 2024.

The strikes across various sectors in the UK highlight the ongoing disputes over unpaid Covid bonuses, fair pay, and working conditions. As workers demand what

Key Takeaways

  • Multiple UK institutions face strikes over unpaid Covid bonuses, pay, and working conditions.
  • NHS workers strike over £1,655 Covid bonus owed to them, citing undervaluation.
  • Energy sector workers at Dounreay power station demand pay rise above 11.4% inflation rate.
  • Public sector workers, including museum staff and social workers, strike over fair pay and conditions.
  • UK labour market statistics show 22,000 working days lost due to labour disputes in March 2024.