The High Court will rule today on whether Network Rail’s planned strike next week can go ahead – but the UK faces months of industrial action regardless, according to unions.
Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, said the current series of strikes and threats – including British Airways and Network Rail – amounted to a “Spring of discontent”. But widespread action was likely after the general election if the public sector faced savage spending cuts, he told the Times.
He said: “If there are serious cuts in public spending and in vital public services, then there are very real risks of some very difficult disputes.
“Whoever wins the next general election will have to think very carefully before they reach for the axe and what that will mean not only for pay and living standards but for the quality of services that the public sector delivers.”
The High Court will rule today whether the first national rail strike in 16 years – scheduled between 6-9 April next week – is lawful.
If it goes ahead, the strike is likely to disrupt thousands of commuter journeys both on the trains and roads.
Employers’ groups have warned some businesses may be forced to close and impose unpaid leave on staff if the threat of nobody turning up remains too high.
Barber said 455,000 working days were lost to industrial action last year, compared with the 27 million lost during the 1984 miners’ strikes and the 29 million lost during the 1979 Winter of Discontent.