Latest strikes: 'I'm a university professor on less than £13,000 a year': Workers tell their stories (2023)

key points
  • 500,000 people are leaving, including teachers, railway workers and civil servants - who is on strike today?
  • 'We are the working class and we are back': the rallying cry of the union leader
  • Less than half of schools are fully open today
  • Strikes cost the UK economy £68m in one day
  • people stories:"I am a university professor and earn less than £13,000 a year' |"I could gain more weight in this bar"|"To a Paycheck from the Homeless"
  • Polls show support for unions is growing despite widespread strikes
  • Live reports fromlucia bindingmiknight of faith


That's it for our live strike coverage.

Thank you for following Sky News on the UK's busiest strike day in over a decade.

At least half a million people took to the streets on Wednesday, including teachers, railway workers and officials.

We'll be back soon with more cost of living updates.


2% of salary is a slap in the face for officials

The government's offer of 2% wages to civil servants was described as a "slap in the face" by a police guard.

Anonymously, the Independent Office for Police Conduct official said: "It is important for all of us to support those who earn the lowest wages.

"If you had said 12 years ago that we would be in this state, no one would have believed you.

"That (2% offer) was the straw that broke the camel's back.

"If you work for a smaller or less publicly recognized agency, it's easier to offer small raises than if you're something more high-profile, like a nurse or machinist.

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"Two percent is just a slap in the face."

Meanwhile, a 34-year-old man who works for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it was clear the government thought it would "just get on with it."

He said: "We had the smallest raise in the public sector because they thought they could do it to us and we would take it.

"I think more people will leave. So many people who have not been in unions before and have never gone on strike are leaving and are open to strike."

The officials represent thousands of the half million people who are on strike today, along with large numbers of teachers and railway workers.


Mick Lynch: 'We are the working class and we are back'

Mick Lynch told teachers during a NEU rally in Westminster today: 'We are the working class and we are back.'

The RMT General Secretary addressed thousands of striking teachers who had gathered in Downing Street.

"Welcome to Westminster, home of the foolish and the corrupt," he said.

"Last year, Grant Shapps, remember? He's still there. He's lurking in all these buildings here, running the government, telling Rishi Sunak what to do and trying to evict the working class."

He added that his message is the same as today: every worker needs a raise, every worker needs a fair deal.

"And our message is that we demand it and we stand together. We are not divided based on who we work for. We are not divided based on our beliefs or the color of our skin or where in the country we come from.

“We are the working class and we are back. We are here, we demand change, we refuse to be bought, and we will win for our people on our terms."


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According to the DfE, 43% of schools in England open on the day of the strike

Less than half the schools in England were fully open when teachers went on strike on Wednesday, data from the Department for Education showed.

The government said it had obtained attendance data from 16,400 state-funded schools in England. This corresponds to about 77% of the total amount.

The Ministry of Education said:

  • 43,9%were appreciatedwide open;
  • 42,8%areOpen mindbut withlimited participation;
  • 8,9%arefinished;
  • the state4,4%Erasunknown.


South Western Railway says stop because drivers 'don't cross picket lines'

South Western Railway told passengers it intended to run a full service on its main network today, but there were disruptions because drivers did not cross the picket line.

The operator said: "While our drivers are not on strike, some drivers are refusing to cross pickets in support of our garage drivers who are taking action today."

It added that all routes could experience "last-minute cancellations, delays and service changes."

Analysis by train performance website showed that 7.6% of services as of 2 p.m. on Wednesday were canceled or delayed by more than half an hour.

The full day reading on Tuesday was 0.4%.


Sadiq Khan: 'The government has always let him down'

The National Education Union thanked London Mayor Sadiq Khan for his "strong support" for the strikes and their members.

Khan, a member of the Labor Party, said he recognized that his members "have been forced to defend themselves and their students because this government has always failed them."

He adds that "there is no doubt that you will talk too much and you will be paid poorly" and that it is "wrong that our children are paying the price for more than a decade of failure and conservative incompetence."

You can read his full message of support below...

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Parents and children affected by the teachers' strike

OurCorrespondent Matt ThompsonI stood outside the London Enterprise Academy in the east of the capital today as thousands of teachers filed out.

One woman told him that the strike had clearly taken its toll on parents and children.

She said: "I think the parents are affected and so are the children. Parents work so it's hard to find someone to look after their children for a certain period of time that day.

"As a parent, I think teachers should be paid better because they do very, very hard and noble work for us."


Government must 'move forward with concrete proposals': union leaders

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The education minister must come up with "concrete and meaningful proposals" on teacher pay to prevent further strikes, union leaders said.

The National Education Union (NEU) estimates that around 85% of schools in England and Wales would be affected by teachers' strikes today.

Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, NEU Assistant General Secretaries, said: “This is not cause for celebration, but it is an indication of the level of anger among our members.

"This is a great statement from a determined member who has crossed government borders that were designed only to prevent strikes.

“Today we notify the Minister of Education. He has until our next strike day in England, February 28, to change his post."

Union leaders warned: "However, have no doubt that if Gillian Keegan continues to fail to come up with concrete and meaningful proposals, our members will do whatever it takes to defend education, including more strikes."


How do strikes end?

Today will be the biggest day of strikes in ten years, with half a million workers on strike in bitter disputes over wages, jobs and working conditions.

Teachers, train drivers, civil servants, university professors, bus drivers and security forces participate in the confrontations. The government is pressing ahead with its controversial plans for a new law on minimum service levels during strikes.

At Sky News Daily, Niall Paterson joins business correspondent Paul Kelso to discuss the economic impact of the move, and political correspondent Ali Fortescue examines the pressure he is putting on the government.


Click here to subscribe to Sky News Daily, wherever you get your podcasts


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