Related: Ambulance strike to go ahead as talks fail to break deadlock
Millions of Britons travelling for Christmas face unprecedented travel disruption with strikes causing misery for rail and air passengers, and thousands more drivers taking to the roads.
Motorists are being warned to prepare for long queues, as an estimated 16.9 million journeys will be made across the UK.
The AA has warned that driving become a traffic nightmare – just as National Highways workers and control centre staff walk out for four days from today until Christmas Day.
The motorists’ organisation has issued an amber traffic warning for Friday and Christmas Eve, and experts are urging drivers to set their Christmas travel plans in motion “as soon as possible”.
And as fresh rail walkouts loom, some services will stop early tomorrow before national strikes from Saturday, Christmas Eve.
Separately, the Unison union said ambulance workers would stage two further strikes on 11 and 23 January and in their dispute over pay and staffing.
A quarter of million passengers arriving to the UK warned to expect delays
Around a quarter of a million passengers arriving at UK airports on Friday are being warned to expect delays due to the start of Border Force strikes.
Around 1,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union employed by the Home Office to operate passport booths will walkout at Heathrow, Birmingham, Cardiff, Gatwick, Glasgow and Manchester airports, and the port of Newhaven in East Sussex.
The Border Force strikes will take place every day from Friday to the end of the year, except 27 December.
Aviation data company Cirium said 1,290 flights are scheduled to land at affected airports on the first day of industrial action, with a total capacity of more than a quarter of a million passengers.
This is the busiest Christmas for airports since 2019, as it is the first festive period without coronavirus travel restrictions since the start of the pandemic.
There are fears that delays in checking the passports of arriving passengers could lead to long queues and even people being held on planes, disrupting subsequent departures.
Thomas Kingsley22 December 2022 21:10
Millions face unprecedented disruption from strikes
A quarter of a million airline passengers set to arrive in the UK on Friday face a strike by members of UK Border Force at six of the country’s biggest airports.
And passengers on trains will be hit by delays and cancellations – all as 17 million drivers are expected on the roads in the next two days amid a four-day National Highways walkout. Simon Calder reports:
Jane Dalton22 December 2022 20:45
Christmas drivers warned of ‘traffic nightmare’
Drivers could face a higher-than-usual risk of “life-threatening” delays for assistance in the event of a motorway breakdown, according to the AA. Andy Gregory reports:
Jane Dalton22 December 2022 20:10
Christmas may be one of the darkest, say health leaders
NHS trust leaders have warned strikes threaten to aggravate an “already deeply challenging situation” in the NHS:
Jane Dalton22 December 2022 19:55
Gatwick warns of hold-ups to passport checks
Gatwick airport has warned passengers and people collecting passengers to bring extra food and water for the delays they are likely to face during the Border Force strikes hitting passport control.
“Check with your airline for the latest information about your flight. You may have the option to rebook on other dates free of charge,” it said.
Jane Dalton22 December 2022 19:25
Bus engineers call off walkout
Around 150 bus engineers have accepted pay rises of up to 13.1% after they called off strike action.
The Go North East workers, based at depots in Tyneside, Northumberland, County Durham and Wearside, have voted to accept the pay deal following negotiations last week.
Strike action that was due to begin this week was called off.
The Unite union said the vast majority of workers will receive a rise of between 10 and 13.1 per cent, depending on their grade, along with an attendance bonus on top of the increase.
Jane Dalton22 December 2022 19:10
NHS ‘close to overheating’ as unions reveal new strikes
Health leaders have warned the NHS is close “overheating completely” during one of its darkest-ever winters, as union leaders stepped up their pay dispute with Rishi Sunak’s government and announced more strikes for January. Adam Forrest reports:
Jane Dalton22 December 2022 18:44
Normal rail services will not resume until 9 January, as engineering projects and staff shortages combine with strikes. Simon Calder reports:
Jane Dalton22 December 2022 18:19
Welsh ambulance workers to walk out
The Unite union has announced its members in the Welsh Ambulance Service have voted to strike.
Around 1,000 workers are set to take action on dates to be announced in the new year.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite’s ambulance service members in Wales are striking because they see first-hand every day how the NHS is collapsing. They are dedicated life-saving professionals and are taking this step because they know the NHS itself needs saving.”
Jane Dalton22 December 2022 17:55
Union dismisses fast-track pay deal plan
Ambulance workers’ union Unison has dismissed the government’s idea of fast-tracking a pay deal next year for striking NHS workers.
General secretary Christina McAnea said: “It’s only through talks that this dispute will end. No health workers want to go out on strike again in the new year.
“But accusing NHS staff of making a conscious decision to inflict harm on the public by taking action this week was not the health secretary’s finest hour…
“Speeding up next year’s pay review body process won’t solve the current dispute, which is about the pitiful amount the government gave health workers this year.
“The Government must stop using the pay review body as cover for its own inaction. This year’s pay rise simply wasn’t enough to halt the exodus of staff from the NHS.”
Sources close to health secretary Steve Barclay said sometimes it could take time for NHS staff to see the benefit of any pay rise in their wages but that he would seek to encourage those involved in the process to ensure this did not happen.
Jane Dalton22 December 2022 17:39