UK Strike: General Strike Sends British Teachers, Transport Workers Away Their Jobs In Massive Industrial Action
London — An estimated half a million workers across multiple sectors in the UK went on strike on Wednesday in the biggest industrial action Britain has seen in more than a decade. The strikers included teachers, civil servants, train and bus drivers, border officials and university staff who were demanding better wages and working conditions amid inflation and soaring energy prices – difficult circumstances that a US forecast suggests IMF, may have been exacerbated by brexit.
“The government has been undermining our education (system), underfunding our schools and underpaying the people who work in them,” National Education Union Assistant General Secretary Kevin Courtney said, according to The Associated Press.
Some 85% of schools across the country were closed in whole or in part due to strikes on Wednesday, according to BBC News, leaving thousands of parents changing their own work schedules or looking for childcare options.
“Elementary schools where you can’t find special needs aides because they’re taking jobs in supermarkets, where they’re paid better, that’s what gets people to take action,” Courtney said.
Large-scale strikes have been taking place across the UK for months, paralyzing public services and disrupting hospital and emergency care, among other things. Time nurses and ambulance workers They did not go on strike again on Wednesday, they plan to picket again in the next few days.
Inflation in the UK has skyrocketed over the past year at the highest rates seen in 40 years, and it still held at 10.5% Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund said Britain would be the only major economy to contract this year, performing even worse than Russia, which is still under heavy international sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.
In October, the IMF forecast that Britain could expect modest growth in 2023, along with other European nations emerging from the coronavirus pandemic and adjusting to energy markets largely starved of Russian fuel. But his new forecast this week calls for the British economy to contract by 0.6%.
The IMF did not link its prediction to the UK leaving the European Union three years ago, but as a result Britain’s trade has slowed and many EU workers have left the UK since Brexit, it has caused a labor shortage that other European countries have experienced. I didn’t have to deal with it.
Many public sector workers say their wages have fallen in real terms over the past decade, and runaway inflation has pushed them into financial difficulties, with some forced to use food banks.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has so far taken a hard line against the strikes, insisting that some of the wage increases demanded by public sector workers are not affordable to the government. Union leaders say the government has refused to offer anything significant enough to call off the strikes.
“Our children’s education is precious and they deserve to be in school today,” Sunak said.
The leader of a national federation of unions, Paul Nowak, said the strikes would not stop unless significant change was achieved.
“The message to the government is that this is not going to go away. These problems will not magically go away,” she said, according to The Associated Press.