Industrial action sees massive UK rise in days lost since 2019

Bu Kas Ellis

DAYS lost due to industrial action have increased dramatically since 2019.

The Office for National Statistics released information regarding the amount of days lost in select months in 2022 after previously suspending data collection due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A member of the University and College Union spoke about the rise.

Alistair Jones, a politics professor at De Montfort University has been a part of the union for 32 years.

“The main cause for strikes is pay, especially with inflation, but also terms and conditions,” Prof Jones said. “I’ve been a part of half a dozen strikes during my time at De Montfort, and almost all have been in relation to pay.”

Casualisation of work, short term contracts, and workloads were also factors at play for the rise in labour disputes.

Recent figures provided by the Office for National Statistics showed a significant increase of working days lost from the average number of 19,500 days lost in 2019.

In June 2022, there were 70,500 working days lost, and in July 2022, there were 87,600 working days lost.

The figures for August, September, and October 2022 saw an increase too, with 356,000 days, 209,000 days, and 417,00 days lost respectively.

The June and July report also showed that the regions with the highest amount of working days lost were Yorkshire and The Humber, and the North West.

The industry with the most working days lost was transport and storage.

When asked about any particular factors that made the rise from 2019 so significant, Prof Jones said: “It’s not just from COVID-19, we were on strike in the weeks leading up to the shut-down. This is something that has been building up.

“It’s mainly from the cost of living crisis that we’re in.”

According to an October and November 2022 report, the Office for National Statistics found that 91 per cent of adults in the UK reported an increase in their cost of living compared to last year.

Seventy four per cent of adults reported an increase in their cost of living compared to one month ago.

The average pay rise over the last decade has been only 2.5 per cent in the public sector.

Prof Jones explained that in the 30 years that he’s worked at the university, his pay rise has doubled as opposed to the cost of living, which has tripled.

“Across the public sector, we’ve been hammered. We’ve simply decided that enough is enough.”

Mental health issues on the rise in Leicester hospital staff

By Courtney Stevens

The Number of NHS staff in Leicester hospitals who have reported absent due to depression and anxiety has increased since the start of the pandemic. 

Over the pandemic NHS staff have been under a lot of pressure to keep everyone safe and healthy which has led to an increase in depression, anxiety, burnout and other mental health issues. 

Becca McDonald, a third-year nursing student at De Montfort University, said her mental health has suffered during the pandemic: 

“I’ve found my social anxiety is a lot higher now and I’m finding it difficult to adapt back to normal.’ 

“I’ve noticed stress levels increasing drastically since the pandemic with lots of healthcare staff having to take time off due to their mental health or stress.”  

Figures show that between September 2018 and October 2019 there were 1,320 members of staff who reported absent due to mental health issues compared to 1,768 members of staff who reported absent between September 2020 and October 2021. 

Miss McDonald has noticed the impact the pandemic has had on NHS staff: 

“I try to avoid taking days off and I push myself to be productive, saying that, I have had to take one or two days off because of being completely exhausted and I know that I can’t practice safely if I’m not mentally equipped.’ 

“Lots of staff have left their jobs, either because of long covid making them too ill to work in healthcare anymore, or because of the issues that went on during the pandemic causing people to dislike their job and finding it better to leave.”  

Figures also show that there is a difference in the number of men reporting absent compared to the number of women.  

Between September 2018 and October 2019, there were 1,169 women and 151 men who reported absent compared to 1,549 women and 219 men who reported absent between September 2020 and October 2021. 

During the pandemic staff were offered extra support due to the rise of depression and anxiety that they were experiencing.  

40 well-being hubs that were opened to give all health and social care staff access to psychologists. 

Miss McDonald said there is support available to her through the university: 

“The well-being team are incredible, offering six-week blocks of counselling when required.  

“I am also aware of NHS staff being signposted to classes such as meditation or yoga to help those that may benefit from them.”  

Chinese New Year celebration events planned in Leicester

By Charlie Hawes

Credit: Stefano Borghi

The Confucius Institute at De Montfort University has planned several events to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year for 2023.

According to the Chinese calendar, 2023 will be the Year of the Rabbit.

Chinese New Year will start on Sunday, January 22, 2023, and celebrations will take place for 15 days until Sunday, February 5.

Dr Yingjun Yang, d,irector of the Confucius Institute at DMU said: “We have planned quite a number of events at varying scales.

“These are both on campus at DMU and in the city centre together with partners and the city council.”

Chinese New Year celebration events at DMU include:

  • A Calligraphy and Painting Workshop in the Vijay Patel Building on Tuesday, January 24, between midday and 1pm which will be an interactive workshop teaching Chinese calligraphy and traditional painting.
  • A Tea Ceremony and Traditional Music session in the Vijay Patel Building on Wednesday, January 25, between midday and 1pm, will teach the techniques of tea brewing and tasting and will be accompanied by relaxing and peaceful music performed on the Guzheng.
  • A Chinese New Year performance in the Vijay Patel Building on Friday, January 27, between 11am and midday. A range of performances are planned to include Tai Chi Fan dance, magic shows, traditional folk dance and Chinese classical music played on the Guzheng and Hulusi.

All sessions are free to attend but due to limited spaces pre-booking is mandatory.

For more information on the events and to book your space, please visit:

The Confucius Institute at De Montfort University provides an insight for students, staff and the wider community about the Chinese language and culture.

The staff run a wide variety of courses, public events and activities designed to share the Chinese language and culture for better relations between China and the UK.

Chinese New Year dates change every year because the festival is based on the Chinese Lunar Calendar which is associated with the movement of the moon.

The lunar calendar is also associated with 12 animal signs in Chinese zodiac, so every 12 years is regarded as a cycle.

Genesis tribute band The Musical Box set to play at De Montfort Hall in Leicester

By Courtney Stevens

The Musical Box performing at one of their shows (Image: publicity picture)

Genesis tribute band The Musical Box are set to play at De Montfort Hall in Leicester on Wednesday, February 8, as part of their global tour The Lamb lies down on Broadway.

The band will be playing all over the UK in February, starting off in York on February 2 and finishing off in Portsmouth on February 18.

The Musical Box are a Canadian tribute band for English Rock band Genesis, re-enacting their performances from the 1970s.

The current line-up includes singer Denis Gagne, guitarist Francois Gagnon, bassist Sebastien Lamothe, keyboardist Ian Benhamou, and drummer Marc Laflamme.

This tour will be re-creating the original band’s 1974 – 1975 show And the light lies down on Broadway, and will be complete with costumes, instruments and lighting.

The band promises a set that will take fans right back to Genesis’ 1970s peak with everything down to the setlists being identical to those played by the original band.

Since The Musical Box’s creation in 1993, they have performed shows across Canada, the US, Europe, and South America.

The band are also the only Genesis band to have received active support and permission from the original group, with members of the band being part of the audience or even appearing on stage with them.

Tickets are available now from

‘My father died of a drug overdose when I was four years old’

Sometimes I’d like to imagine my dad as a billionaire or a spy working on secret missions around the world or a superhero, doing good things and helping others, writes Madi Bowman.

Sometimes it would be fun to think about what birthday cards he might have chosen for me, or what his favourite songs were.

Sometimes I wonder what it might have been like to draw both my parents on art days or address Father’s Day cards to him, rather than just my mum.
Sometimes I wonder what my parents were like when they were together. Did he love her, my mum? Did he love me? Why wasn’t he there to drop me off at school like my best friend Molly’s dad?

I used to wonder how much I looked like him. I still don’t know what he looked like as an adult – and I never knew why there were only pictures of him as a child. Sadly, the truth about my father wasn’t anything I’d ever imagined. The truth was he was a lonely, homeless drug addict who spent his last day on earth face down choking on his own vomit.

My father died from a drug overdose when I was four years old.

Missing someone you don’t know is a strange feeling. Nobody wanted to talk about my dad when I was little. To my nan, his mum, he was an angel who did no wrong. To my uncle Andy, my dad’s younger brother, my dad threw his life away. Andy was angry and upset with the path my dad had chosen. My mum says he was abusive ex who had abandoned her through her pregnancy.

To me, he was a stranger. For years I was told I was too young to know what happened. And as much as I tried to find out about him and the sort of person he was, it made me wish I could go back to pretending he was on a spy mission, like Tracey Beaker used to do.



He was very troubled, I know that. And sometimes I wonder what could lead a person down the terrible path my dad decided to take. I know people deal with pain and guilt in different ways. Maybe he thought he could never live up to being a good father, which is understandable. But the saddest part, for me, is that he never tried.

My mum has never talked to me about my dad. The mention of his name in my house turns on a tap of emotion that we don’t know how to deal with. So we don’t. I don’t talk about him. We don’t touch that tap. It seems easier that way.
My mum was only 16 years old when she had me and she’s always said ‘we grew up together’ and we have always been close because of that.
She always told me that she loved my dad but the best part about him was me.

My nan has shown me pictures of my dad but, as I said, they were always photos taken from his childhood. Although he died in 2006, I have only seen pictures of the youth he was before the drugs, the homelessness and the bad influences. I don’t know what he was like after that. My nan won’t talk about that. She is in complete denial that he even took drugs.
I used to ask her how he died, and she’s said things like it: ‘Oh, it was an accident at work.’ I used to believe that until I grew older and my questions got better and she couldn’t hide the truth from me. She’d never taken me to visit his grave as she was worried I’d get to upset. She would cry just looking at pictures.

I’ve never had a conversation with my uncle about what happened to my dad. The only time we spoke about my dad was when we went to visit his grave. If I’m honest, I’m scared to ask about him now because I fear what the answers will be.
My uncle Andy is a doctor. He was the clever one. He did well, he worked hard, he got the top grades, went to university and now he has his own business. He was the successful brother. The good brother. I have other uncles but I’m not allowed to see them and Andy doesn’t speak to them either. I don’t know why.

When we visited his grave, it was a strange feeling. There were no flowers. I remember the sky was blank and I felt, as I looked up at this vast expanse of nothing, the sky reflected exactly how I felt.
I didn’t shed a single tear at my dad’s grave. I felt nothing.

The weirdest part was that, for years, I had been using that graveyard as a shortcut to my best friend’s house. I had walked past my dad’s grave so many times and I never knew. I couldn’t believe I had never noticed his name. We stood there, me and my uncle, silent for a while. I remember feeling awkward that I wasn’t more emotional.

I think my uncle felt awkward about his emotions, too. He explained how it had been difficult to visit his brother’s grave because of the resentment he held. But, he said, he had started to realise he needed to be there for me as I’m the only part of his brother he still has. This, his responsibility to the daughter my dad never knew, is what helped him come to terms with his death.

I think I have a natural need to look for the good in people because of my dad.
Everyone makes mistakes and everything has a price. I believe his mistakes have given me a muddled sense of my own identity.

I know, too, that there is more to this story I don’t know. Do I need to know it? Sometimes I think I do. Sometimes I don’t. It’s difficult.

I’m angry that I never had that father-daughter bond. I’m disappointed that he didn’t try harder to turn his life around – if not for him, for me. Did he not care? How could he be so selfish?

The truth is I’ll never get to hear his story. I’ll never hear his reasons, in his own words  – what does his voice even sound like? – and even though I wonder, constantly, if I want to know, I know I never will, and that’s the sad bit.
What a waste.