October 8, 2022 7.00 am This story is over 18 months old

Lincolnshire strained under week of intense strike action

Pressure continues to mount on the government and big company execs

By Local Democracy Reporter

On the week of the Conservative party conference, everyday workers across Lincolnshire have been making their voices heard with a series of strike action across multiple sectors — calling for increased pay terms and better job conditions.

Strike action has taken place for large sections of the year, but this week in particular saw numerous industries walk out in protest of their work terms, and there is more to come with further train strikes on Saturday, October 8 affecting Lincolnshire and beyond.

Whether it is barrister strikes causing criminal court trials to be delayed, communications workers wearing masks of their millionaire CEO, or rail staff grinding train services to a halt – it has become difficult to ignore the number of industries disappointed with their current working conditions.

Here are some of the industries that have called industrial action that affected Lincolnshire services this week – and why they are on strike in the first place.


Barristers

Barristers have gone on strike following long drawn-out pay disputes. | Photo: Adobe Stock Image

Indefinite strike action was called by barristers across the country at the start of September, and it has disrupted a series of trials at Lincoln Crown Court both this week and previously.

On Friday, the sentencing of a former prison officer at HMP Lincoln was delayed by the ongoing strikes, as she awaited to her her fate after admitting a charge of misconduct in public office.

It was reported last week that criminal barristers across England and Wales will note on whether to end their strike action, following a new proposed pay package from the government for reforms and legal aid fees.

The Criminal Bar Association are said to have asked for a 25% rise in legal aid fees for defendants who could not otherwise afford lawyers.

Discussions between the Criminal Bar Association and the Ministry of Justice saw plans for a further investment of £54 million, reports The Guardian.


BT and Openreach workers

Union workers wore masks of the BT Group CEO on the Lincoln picket line, as disputes over pay terms continue. | Photo: Ellis Karran for The Lincolnite

Similar frustrations over pay can be seen over at the Communications Workers Union, with BT and Openreach staff feeling insulted by a £1,500 pay rise proposal offered to them when industrial action was first threatened.

A number of protests have taken place to try and force BT’s hand and get them to re-enter negotiations with union bosses, but the telecommunications company says the initial offer is the best they can do.

The CWU claims that the pay increase would actually work out as a real terms cut due to the rising cost of living, also suggesting that some BT workers are having to rely on food banks to eat – despite being in full-time work.

Workers at the BT Call Centre in Lincoln stood outside their offices this week in their own longstanding pay dispute, opting to wear masks of the BT Group CEO Philip Jansen – protesting his £3.5 million annual salary and the hundreds of millions of pounds that are handed to shareholders each year.

They were joined across the country by 999 call handlers this time, with the CWU saying the emergency service would “collapse” without the hard work of these staff members.


Train staff

A picket line of RMT workers outside Lincoln train station in July, striking over pay and job security. | Photo: Ellis Karran for The Lincolnite

If you’ve seen any local or national news over the course of 2022, it is likely you have seen reports of various train strikes happening up and down the United Kingdom.

Industrial action over pay negotiations came after the Rail Maritime and Transport Union suggested that Network Rail’s pay rise offer actually translates to a real terms pay cut, when considering the soaring rate of inflation.

In the latest strikes, train drivers’ union ASLEF joined forces with the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association for days of industrial action against their employers from a host of train operators – including LNER and East Midlands Railway, which run services in Lincolnshire.

Lincoln rail station was closed on Wednesday, October 5 as a result of this strike, and further action is planned for Saturday, October 8 to round off this recent batch of protests.

These strikes were supposed to happen in mid-September, but were delayed as a mark of respect to the Royal Family, following the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.


Royal Mail

Strike action in August from the Communication Workers Union by Lincoln’s Royal Mail delivery office. | Photo: Ellis Karran for The Lincolnite

The Communications Workers’ Union, which represents Royal Mail staff, held a 48-hour walkout across the country on Friday, September 30 and Saturday, October 1 – as the dispute over pay terms and working conditions continues.

Further industrial action was announced by the CWU, with 19 days of strikes taking place through October and November.

This began with network workers on Wednesday, October 2, followed by processing, distribution, international, collections and admin workers on Thursday and delivery workers on Friday.

There will be four days of widespread action across the whole sector on Thursday, October 13, Thursday, October 20, Tuesday, October 25 and Monday, November 28. This is expected to involve around 115,000 CWU members and workers.

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday falling during these days, it is expected to have a significant impact on the Royal Mail service.