North of Tyne Mayor backs workers’ right to strike in order to ‘defend their livelihoods’

North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll has written a statement supporting the right of workers to take industrial action. Credit: PA

A North East mayor has backed the right of workers to take industrial action in a bid to "defend their livelihoods".

Five Labour metro mayors - including North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll - have warned that the cost of living crisis is "forcing an increasing number of people into industrial disputes".

In a statement published on Tuesday 5 July, the mayors said striking is at times the only remaining means for people to "defend their livelihoods", with those compelled to take a stand recently including rail workers, barristers and airport staff.

They expressed their support for "the right to take action to protect jobs, safety, pensions, pay and conditions", arguing that paying a "fair wage" is not "too much ask".

The statement is signed by Labour mayors Steve Rotheram (Liverpool City region), and Andy Burnham (Greater Manchester), as well as Labour and Co-operative mayors Nik Johnson (Cambridgeshire and Peterborough), Oliver Coppard (South Yorkshire), and Jamie Driscoll (North of Tyne).

They said: "Paying a fair wage to the people who keep our country running isn't too much ask.

"We urge employers to meet with trade unions and negotiate an end to these disputes."

The mayors also warned there could be "many more" workers, including teachers, doctors and other NHS staff, who are compelled to strike.

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Britain has not seen a general strike - where all or almost all sectors strike collectively - since 1926.

But there are a growing list of industries that have already begun to take part in strikes, or have plans for action.

Barrister strikes are currently underway at criminal courts around the country for the second week.

The Criminal Bar Association (CBA) said barristers have suffered an average decrease in real earnings of 28% since 2006 and juniors in their first three years earn a median income of £12,200 - below minimum wage.

Almost 40% of junior criminal barristers left the profession in one year, according to the group, as hundreds struggle with long hours and low pay.

Downing Street has urged striking barristers to accept a pay offer and end any impact on victims.

Holidaymakers have been warned of disruption.

Holidaymakers also face chaos at airports this summer in a dispute by BA staff over pay.

Airline workers, including check-in staff, will now decide on walkout dates, which the unions said were likely to be held during the peak summer holiday period.

BA have said they are "extremely disappointed" with the result and argued their offer of a 10% one-off payment is fair given recent losses of £4 billion.

The RMT union leader has hinted at the prospect of further strikes if a settlement is not reached on the industrial dispute Credit: PA

Industrial action on the railways crippled Britain's transport network in June 2022, with the prospect of further disruption on the horizon.