Workers across the UK are on wildcat strikes – here is what it means

·2-min read
Workers protest over pay as profits surge with inflation and the cost of living crisis bites  (Getty Images)
Workers protest over pay as profits surge with inflation and the cost of living crisis bites (Getty Images)

Workers across the UK are walking out in so-called wildcat strikes without the permission of their unions in disputes over pay and working conditions.

A number of official, union-organised strikes have gone ahead this summer, including transport workers, postal workers and barristers.

But a number of unofficial strikes are also taking place across the country as workers protest over pay rates amid the cost of living crisis.

Find out below what constitutes a wildcat strike and where employees are walking out.

What is a wildcat strike?

A wildcat strike is an unofficial strike where workers walk out without their union being involved.

“The name is based on the stereotypical characteristics associated with wildcats: unpredictability and uncontrollability,” according to Britannica.

“These terms of description are often applied by the employers, the media, and the state, not the workers themselves.”

Wildcat strikes don’t have the permission of their union, and workers don’t go through the typical process a union does when arranging industrial action, which sometimes challenges their union’s authority.

Where are unofficial strikes happening?

Hundreds of Amazon workers are striking at a number of warehouses over a three per cent pay rise, which constitutes a pay cut in real terms due to inflation.

The strikes started at the Tilbury warehouse in Essex but have since spread to Bristol, Staffordshire, and Coventry, as reported by The Big Issue.

Meanwhile, hundreds of chemical plant workers in Teesside walked out over pay rates and protested by blocking motorists, resulting in rush hour traffic queues, according to Teesside Live.

Earlier in August, staff at a food processing plant in Manchester walked out when the company announced it was cancelling their 15-minute breaks.

The employees are now demanding better working conditions and fairer pay, according to the World Socialist Web Site.

STV News reports that hundreds of oil refinery workers in Grangemouth in Scotland are threatening wildcat strike action in a dispute over pay, with 500 contracted maintenance and repairs staff planning to walk out.