Nadhim Zahawi COST Waves Action Nadhim Zahawi

New strike chaos as teachers and NHS staff warn of action over pay

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A wave of 1970s-style economic unrest is threatening to spread from the railways across the public services, as unions representing teachers and NHS workers warn of potential industrial action over pay.With the country preparing for rail strikes on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday which will see half the network shut down, the biggest teaching union, the National Education Union (NEU), told the Observer that unless it receives a pay offer much closer to inflation by Wednesday, it will be informing education secretary Nadhim Zahawi of its plan to ballot its 450,000 members.

The move could lead to strikes in schools in England in the autumn, the union said.Another flashpoint could come this week when millions of NHS workers up to senior nurse level receive their annual pay offer, which is expected to fall substantially short of inflation, currently running at 9.2%.The country’s biggest union, Unison, representing NHS staff, said the government now faced a choice between offering a deal close to inflation or triggering a mass exodus of staff coupled with possible industrial action in hospitals, at a time when they are already hugely overburdened.The prospect of strikes across the public services has grown as inflation climbs towards double figures but the Treasury is desperate to keep public spending, and the public sector pay bill, in check.The sense of crisis deepened last week when the Bank of England said inflation would climb to 11% this autumn, even after interest rate increases – which will themselves see rising mortgage payments adding to the cost of living crisis.

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