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Warning of ‘significant disruption’ on February 1 day of mass UK strike action

Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) on the picket line outside St Thomas' Hospital, central London. Continued strike action plus winter pressures are jeopardising the ability of the NHS to break out of a "vicious cycle", a health leader has said. Photo by James Manning/PA

By David Hughes, PA Political Editor

Schools, universities, the rail network and Whitehall will be hit by strike action on February 1 in what appears set to be the toughest day in a winter of woe for the UK Government.

Train drivers with Aslef and the RMT unions as well as university staff are the latest to confirm they will take action on February 1, joining National Education Union teachers in England and Wales and around 100,000 civil servants in the PCS.

Downing Street has condemned the “significant disruption” the widespread strikes will cause.

The action coincides with protests by the Trades Union Congress against the Government’s legislation aimed at ensuring minimum levels of staffing are maintained during strikes in key workplaces.

Industrial action announced for February 1 includes:

• RMT drivers at 14 train operators.

• Aslef train drivers.

• PCS public servants in areas including government ministries, driving test centres, museums, ports and airports.

• NEU members, which could force schools in England and Wales to close.

• More than 70,000 staff at 150 universities as part of action by the University and College Union (UCU).

• The continuation of rolling strikes by the Educational Institute of Scotland and the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS).

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We’re in no doubt that this strike action, some of which will fall on the same day or days, will cause significant disruption to the public – whether it’s children having their education disrupted or the public trying to go about their daily lives on their commute.

“We don’t think it’s the right course of action, we continue to call unions to step away from the picket lines and continue with discussions.”

A series of meetings of the Cobra emergency committee have already been held to discuss the response to strikes, and more are expected in the lead-up to the February 1 action.

“We have seen that we have been able to significantly mitigate against some of the challenges that would have otherwise been posed by some of these strikes,” the Prime Minister’s spokesman said.

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