The biggest strike in England for many years

The UK has been hit by public sector strikes for months, but this is the biggest yet. For the first time, some education unions also took part, forcing hundreds of thousands of British students to stay at home. The academic strike is controversial as students have missed out on a lot of education in recent years due to the long coronavirus lockdown. Teachers in London, in particular, took part in the activities, as the cost of living was high. Fresh strikes within the health sector are imminent.

All this led to a heated debate in the Lok Sabha. In weekly Question Time, Opposition Leader Sir Keir Starmer accused the Conservative government of doing nothing to end labor unrest. In turn, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak declared that he was on the side of “hardworking British people and schoolchildren”, while Starmer was under the influence of union leaders. Earlier, union leader Paul Novak said a “cabinet full of billionaires” had nothing to do with pressure on the public sector.

Strikers in the streets of London.Good pictures

‘Disgusting’ bill

Many British civil servants are facing a purchasing power crisis, the result of years of austerity and high inflation, according to Labor and unions. The recent interest rate hike has a major impact on the island, where unlike other countries, mortgage interest rates are only fixed for about five years. The government refuses to accept large salary increases because it doesn’t have the money. Hundreds of strikers took to the streets in several cities. Former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn took part in the demonstration in London.

It expressed discontent only with wage restraint. The government wants to designate more industries as essential so that employees there are always guaranteed minimum services. For example, this will apply in future to healthcare workers and public transport workers. Union leaders have said that this bill, which is currently being debated in Parliament, is disgusting. Labor opposes the law and will change it if it comes to power.

The strike was less effective than the famous national strikes of 1979, when the entire country was paralyzed, huge mountains of garbage lined the streets and bodies were left unburied. Especially since the lockdown, many Britons have become accustomed to working from home, meaning that, for example, a strike on public transport is less disruptive. Also, only government employees and employees in privatized railways are now on strike. At that time, a member of a union often had to be allowed to work somewhere.

A deserted Euston station in London this afternoon.  Image by ANP / EPA

A deserted Euston station in London this afternoon.Image by ANP / EPA

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