Wednesday train and teacher strikes: What you need to know as UK faces decade's biggest strike day

Paul Nowak on strikes Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The UK is facing the largest scale strike day in over a decade on Wednesday, as half a million workers plan industrial action expected to spark widespread disruption.

Teachers, train drivers, civil servants, university lecturers, bus drivers and security guards from seven trade unions will all walk out on Wednesday, 1 February.

Picket lines will be mounted outside schools, train stations, universities and Government departments and rallies will be held across the country.

On the same day, protests will be held across the country against the Government’s controversial plans for a new law on minimum service levels during strikes.

Unions have dubbed it the “anti-strike bill”, saying it could lead to workers, who legally vote to strike, being sacked.

The mass industrial action over pay, jobs and conditions should send a clear message to the Government that it cannot continue to ignore, says the head of the TUC, Paul Nowak.

Full list of strikes this week

  • Teachers in England and Wales who are members of the National Education Union (NEU) will begin the first of seven days of walkouts on Wednesday, 1 February.

  • A strike by 100,000 civil servants belonging to the PCS union which will have an impact on governments, driving test centres, museums, ports and airports will also go ahead on Wednesday. Phil Douglas, director-general of Border Force, said there will be queues at airports on Wednesday due to a strike by people manning passport booths.

  • University lecturer and security guards are also striking on Wednesday.

  • Aslef union train drivers and RMT union train drivers at 14 rail operators will strike on February 1 and 3.

  • Scottish teachers who are members of EIS and AHDS will continue their strike on February 1, 2, and 3.

Teachers on the picket line outside Falkirk High School in Stirlingshire Credit: PA

What dates are teachers going on strike?

The National Education Union (NEU) has announced seven days of strikes in England and Wales in February and March.

The Wednesday, 1 February, walkout is expected to affect more than 23,000 schools, and will be followed by six more strike dates:

  • Tuesday 14 February 2023: all eligible members in Wales.

  • Tuesday 28 February 2023: all eligible members in the following English regions: Northern, North West, Yorkshire & The Humber.

  • Wednesday 1 March 2023: all eligible members in the following English regions: East Midlands, West Midlands, Eastern.

  • Thursday 2 March 2023: all eligible members in the following English regions: London, South East, South West.

  • Wednesday 15 March 2023: all eligible members in England and Wales.

  • Thursday 16 March 2023: all eligible members in England and Wales.

Sixth form college teachers in England, who are members of the union, have already been balloted and taken strike action in recent months. They will also take action on these days in a separate but linked dispute.

If you've been impacted by the recent strike action and would like to share your story, email yourstory@itv.com

Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, joint general secretaries of the NEU, said: “This is not about a pay rise but correcting historic real-terms pay cuts. Teachers have lost 23% in real-terms since 2010, and support staff 27% over the same period.

“The average 5% pay rise for teachers this year is some 7% behind inflation. In the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, that is an unsustainable situation.

“Teachers are leaving in droves, a third gone within five years of qualifying. This is a scandalous waste of talent and taxpayers’ money, yet the Government seems unbothered about the conditions they are allowing schools and colleges to slide into."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...

When are Wednesday's train strikes and what operators are affected?

Protesters on the picket line outside Leeds train station Credit: Danny Lawson/PA

Commuters across the country will face travel disruption throughout this week due to strikes by train driver members of the Aslef union on Wednesday, 1 February and Friday, 3 February .

Trains will start later and finish much earlier than usual on strike days – typically between 7.30am and 6.30pm.

It's expected around 30% of services will run nationally, with the possibility of no trains in some parts of the country and other lines running a normal service.It is likely evening services will be affected on the days before each strike, while morning services on those lines may also be disrupted on February 2 and 4 as the trains will not be in the right places.

Train companies affected by the strikes:

  • Avanti West Coast

  • Chiltern Railways

  • CrossCountry

  • East Midlands Railway

  • Great Western Railway

  • Greater Anglia

  • GTR Great Northern Thameslink

  • London North Eastern Railway

  • Northern Trains

  • Southeastern

  • Southern/Gatwick Express

  • South Western Railway (depot drivers and SWR Island Line)

  • TransPennine Express

  • West Midlands Trains

Protesters outside the Houses of Parliament in London as the Bill on minimum service levels during strikes reaches its second reading Credit: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

Anti-strike law protest

Thousands of people are also expected to march through central London to Westminster on Wednesday.

The TUC will also hand in a petition to 10 Downing Street, signed by more than 200,000 people, opposing the new legislation on strikes.

The plans give the government the power to set 'minimum service levels' for health, fire, education, transport, nuclear decommissioning and border security services during strike action.

Details of what minimum service levels would entail have not been decided.

Once the minimum service level has been set, employers will be able to send out a “work notice” to their staff, which will identify the employees required to work during the strike in order to provide that minimum service level.

They will also set out the type of work those members of staff are required to do.

TUC general secretary Paul Nowak has slammed the Government's anti-strike legislation. Credit: PA

Work notices must be issued at least a week before a strike begins, unless employers and trade unions agree otherwise.

When issuing a work notice, employers must not require more people to work than are “reasonably necessary” and cannot base decisions about who is needed on whether they are members of a trade union or not.

Opposition MPs and trade unions have slammed this move.

TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “I wish they [the government] would spend as much time trying to resolve the disputes as in attacking the right to strike.”

It was one of the biggest news stories of our time - and it's still not over. So what did Boris Johnson know about Downing Street’s notorious parties? With fresh revelations from our Number 10 sources, in their own words, listen to the inside story...