The wave of strikes across the UK “isn’t going away” the leader of the Unite union has warned, as figures showed December saw the highest number of working days lost to strike action for more than a decade.
About 843,000 working days were lost to labour disputes in the month, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Tuesday.
It said this represents the heaviest impact from strike action during a month since November 2011, when 997,000 working days were hit.
Sharon Graham, the general secretary of Unite, told the government that unions were not about to back own.
“The latest record strike figures announced today are a warning to the government and employers,” she said.
“The wave of industrial action across the UK isn’t going away. In the face of the cost of living crisis workers now have no option but to fight for better wages.
Graham accused Rishi Sunak of acting like the “captain of the Titanic” by “rearranging the deck chairs in his latest cabinet reshuffle” rather than trying to resolve the strikes.
The surge in lost days came after rolling industrial action involving Post Office, rail and NHS workers among others.
ONS director of economic statistics Darren Morgan said: “The number of working days lost to strikes rose again sharply in December.
“Transport and communications remained the most heavily affected area, but this month there was also a large contribution from the health sector.”
Last week the ONS released separate data which showed that the vast majority (97%) of working adults have not missed work as a result of the strikes, with just 3% saying they had.
It came as the ONS also said that regular pay growth reached 6.7% over the three months to December.
However, once consumer prices index (CPI) inflation is taken into account, regular pay fell by 3.6% in the three-month period, compared with the previous year.