Home World News Schools closed, trains grounded and staff out: UK faces biggest strike in 11 years due to inflation

Schools closed, trains grounded and staff out: UK faces biggest strike in 11 years due to inflation

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Schools closed, trains grounded and staff out: UK faces biggest strike in 11 years due to inflation

With annual inflation approaching 10.5% and food and energy prices continuing to rise, the UK faced Wednesday their biggest strike day in eleven years. Closed schools, paralyzed trains and absent staff from multiple ministries are the most visible face of a massive demonstration demanding better wages

The Trades Union Congress, a federation of trade unions, even estimates it half a million workersincluding teachers, university staff, municipal employees, border agents and train and bus drivers, leave work during the day across the country.

An estimated 20,000 schools in England and Wales will be affected the first of seven days of strike convened for February and March by primary and secondary school teachers. Suspensions of railway services and long delays at airports are also expected.

More mobilizations are expected in the coming days and weeks.including nurses and ambulance personnel.

The British are coming out of months of disruption to their daily lives due to the bitter dispute over wages and working conditions between unions and the government. But this Wednesday’s strikes mark youno climbing of disruptive actions in multiple key sectors.

The last time there were massive strikes of this magnitude in the country it was in 2011when more than a million public sector workers staged a one-day strike over a pension dispute.

Another piece of information was released this Tuesday that must sound particularly painful to Britons divorced from Europe after Brexit: year-on-year inflation in the European Union fell to 8.5%in the third consecutive decline after a year and a half of continuous increases, a decline supported by the slowdown in energy prices.

According to the European statistical office Eurostat, this performance of 8.5% in January was verified after exhibiting 9.2% in December and 10% in November last yearwhen the downtrend timidly began.

a day of chaos

“I’m a teacher in London and I’m having a really hard time paying the rent“, explained Ciara Osullivan, 38, at the door of her school. “I have small children and I would like to give them more than the basics,” she complained, assuring that currently “being a teacher is very stressful” and involves ten days Hours per day.

The teachers’ strike coincides with one of the many stops deliberated by the drivers of a dozen railways and with the staff of 150 universities.

Even with the action of some 100,000 workers from ministries, ports, airports and even driving license test centres. Total, up to 500,000 people on strike.

There is no money in the state coffers

The education minister, Gillian Keegan, was “disappointed” and “very concerned” by the strike and believed that granting the wage increases requested would be “inconsistent” when the state coffers They are under great pressure and in debt.

The strikes promised a day of chaos for many, but the situation at normally busy train stations like King’s Cross in London was calm, largely thanks to the generalization of teleworking from the pandemic.

As business disruption was avoided experienced in the last massive civil servant strike in the UK, in November 2011.

Kate Lewis, a 50-year-old NGO worker, considers herself “lucky” to have a train home in Newark, northern England, and says she “understands” the strikers. “We are all in this together. Inflation affects us all“.

Although each sector has its demands, all are united in demanding wage increases in the face of inflation that has exceeded 10% for months (10.5% in December) and leaves many families with no choice but to go to food banks.

This deep crisis led nurses in December to stage their first nationwide strike in the more than 100-year history of their union.

After unsuccessful negotiations with the conservative government of Rishi Sunak, they called two more days of strike in January and two more on 7 and 6 February.

This last day will coincide with an action in England and Wales by ambulance staff where it can be the biggest strike in Britain’s battered public healthplagued by years of austerity, since its creation in 1948.

Popular support for the strike

Despite the chaos caused by the incessant strikes, 59% of Britons support the nurses’ strike and 43 percent support teachers, according to a Public First poll released by Politico.

Several student parent organizations said in a statement Wednesday that they “support” the movement, pointing to “the consequences of years of underfunding” in schools.

For its part, the executive defends the need to impose minimum services in key sectors and has presented a bill to this end, the approval of which is progressing without problems in Parliament.

“The government’s position is untenable. It cannot ignore an unprecedented strike movement that continues to grow,” the general secretary of the PCS civil servants union, Mark Serwotka, told Sky News, calling for “a more realistic attitude.”

Wednesday’s protest comes at a bad time for Sunak, on the eve of his crisis-ridden 100 days in power and coinciding with the third anniversary of a Brexit that only 20 per cent of Britons consider on track, against which a 56 per cent (up from 48% in the 2016 referendum), according to a December YouGov poll.

To top it all off, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) report on Tuesday predicted so the UK will be the only G7 country whose economy shrinks in 2023.

Source: AFP and AP

Source: Clarin

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