Britain is facing a new wave of strikes and protest marches, by nurses, postal workers and university professors, ignited by a bitter crisis in the cost of living caused by the growing inflation rates and the deterioration of the economy, and the accompanying decline in wages.
The annual inflation rate in Britain jumped to 11.1 percent last October, from 10.1 percent last September, the highest level of inflation in the country since October 1981.
Workers across Britain went on strike last summer, and with the negative impact of Britain’s exit from the European Union and the Corona pandemic, in addition to the recent Russian war in Ukraine, the cost of living crisis has exacerbated, causing more strikes this winter.
Brexit has added nearly 6 billion pounds ($7.3 billion) to the country’s household food bills, with the poorest bearing the brunt of the higher costs, according to new research from the London School of Economics.
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Food prices have risen by 3% year-on-year since Brexit in 2020, resulting in a 6% jump in the price level over two years.
** Transportation sector
The strike of railway workers, which began last summer, is still continuing in Britain, as it is expected that about 40,000 employees of the railway network (government) and 14 other railway companies will participate in mass movements and protests during the 13th, 14th, 16th and 17th of December. The first one is running.
About 50 percent of train services across Britain are expected to be affected by an expected strike by rail workers on December 27.
London bus drivers also announced the implementation of a collective protest movement in the run-up to Christmas, during the days of 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17 December.
** The medical section
As such, nursing workers in Britain are preparing to strike on December 15 and 20, due to a wage dispute with the government.
The strike will take place across England, Northern Ireland and Wales.
It is expected that about 100 thousand nurses will participate in the strike, provided that emergency care services will continue to be provided.
And the “GMB” union concerned with nurses and health workers in the Kingdom confirmed, on Tuesday, that more than 10 thousand ambulance workers in England and Wales will strike on December 21 and 28, due to wage problems, and the strikes will also include paramedics, control room employees and support workers.
Health workers are calling for the British government to give them wage increases that are more than inflation rates.
** Postal sector and public services
Last October, workers in the postal sector organized a collective movement and protests against the background of a dispute over wages, and the workers refused to offer officials of the Royal Mail Workers Union, “Royal Mail”, an increase in wages by only 2 percent, considering that this increase is not commensurate with the high costs of the living.
And the British Postal Workers Union announced the start of a nationwide strike before Christmas, during the days of 9, 11, 14, 15, 23 and 24 this December.
Thousands of public workers affiliated with the Public and Commercial Services Union announced their intention to hold an eight-day strike, starting on December 23.
Border guards working at Birmingham, Cardiff, Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester airports, as well as the port of Newhaven, are taking part in the strike.
Thousands of people from around 150 universities across Britain joined the three-day strike and protest movement last November.
Teachers across Scotland took part in a strike that lasted on Wednesday and Thursday, causing schools to be forced to close.
The Scottish government had previously offered a maximum wage increase of 6.85 percent and described union demands as “unreasonable”.
And while some parties agreed to the increase proposed by the Scottish government, other workers rejected it and continued the strike, including workers in the port of Felixstowe.
** Government response
In turn, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak criticized, on Wednesday, the high frequency of protests and strikes in his country, announcing that his government was working to enact new “strict laws” to counter widespread strikes by public servants.
“If union leaders continue to act unreasonably, it is my duty to take action to protect the lives and livelihoods of the British people,” Sunak told MPs.
It is reported that a bill to ensure a minimum level of service across transport networks during strikes was submitted to the British Parliament but was not put on the agenda by MPs and members of the House of Lords (senators).
In the context, the Prime Minister’s Office made it clear that the legislation will be expanded to include other services, but it did not specify what these services were, nor did it specify any timetable.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said the bill could “improve the service commuters receive on strike days” in the future, but “it won’t help the strikes we face today”.
He indicated that his priority is to resolve the dispute with the railway unions so that passengers are not stranded during the strike days.