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Teachers, train drivers, security forces: Greatest strike in more than ten years paralyzes Great Britain


Bargaining disputes and inflation are driving hundreds of thousands of Britons onto the streets. Most state schools are closed, administration and transport companies are also on strike.

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Teachers at a rally in London: 85 percent of schools are said to be affected

Photo: LEON NEAL / Getty Images

What began as a strike in individual sectors is now hitting Great Britain harder: The country has started the largest strike in more than a decade.

At the same time, teachers, but also a number of train drivers and employees in the public sector, went down in the fight for higher wages.

The National Education Union estimated that 85 per cent of schools in England and Wales would be affected, meaning more than 100,000 teachers could go on strike.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan indicated talks with unions are ongoing.

She told Times Radio about the strike: "I'm disappointed that the unions have come to this decision.

It's not the last resort."

In addition to the teachers' union, the PCS union in the public sector has called on about 100,000 members in 124 government agencies to walk out.

The employees do not want to be satisfied with the previous offers because they are far below the level of the inflation rate of around ten percent recently.

The conservative government rejects improvements and points to a vicious circle of rising prices.

The collective bargaining dispute has been raging for several months.

With a controversial law, the government wants to ensure that basic services are guaranteed, for example for rescue workers and nursing staff as well as firefighters and the railways.

The unions reject the plan as undemocratic.

Parallel to the strikes, protests against the proposed law were to take place on Wednesday.

Right to strike for many sectors on the brink

With the strike, the »winter of resentment« reaches its preliminary climax.

According to estimates, half a million employees in numerous sectors want to stop working.

Seven unions called on their members to take industrial action and coordinated the national day of protest.

Downing Street warned of "significant disruption".

The dissatisfaction is enormous in numerous industries.

Further walkouts have already been announced for the coming days, on Monday and Tuesday, for example, again by the nursing staff of the NHS health service.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's conservative government is also concerned that firefighters recently voted to go on strike.

The government recently offered teachers around five percent more wages.

Far too little, the NEW teachers' union complained and emphasized: "It's not about a salary increase, it's about correcting historical cuts in real wages." the pressure on those who stay even more.

Tens of thousands of employees from 150 universities have joined the teachers.

Train drivers from 14 private railway companies have also gone on strike.

The displeasure of the employees is fueled by a controversial government project.

Sunak and his business secretary, Grant Shapps, have had enough of the constant labor disputes since last summer and now want to pass legislation restricting the right to strike.

Strict restrictions should then apply to police officers, firefighters, NHS workers or railway staff.

Sunak argues that this should ensure basic services.

On the other hand, people are taking to the streets.

Inflation hits Tory voters too

"People cannot freely choose when they need an ambulance or the fire brigade," Shapps justified his draft, which offers a fair balance between the right to strike and the needs of the population.

On Monday, the Tories-dominated House of Commons passed the bill on a third reading.

But resistance is expected in the upper house.

The unions in particular have sharply criticized the plans.

The project was "undemocratic, unfeasible and almost certainly illegal," complained the general secretary of the TUC trade union federation, Paul Nowak.

The unions have declared the day of the major strike as »Protect the Right to Strike« Day.

Dozens of protests are planned across the country.

The opposition also warns that the law would mean that workers would have to fear losing their jobs.

Labor Vice-President Angela Rayner calls the law the "Fire the nurses draft" - and apparently hits a nerve.

In polls, a majority supports the strikers.

While in the past the Conservatives have repeatedly been able to blame the Labor Party, which is closely linked to the unions, for the consequences of the strikes, observers believe that this approach no longer works.

Too many people are themselves affected by rising energy and food prices.

"Because of the cost of living crisis, these strikes can no longer be portrayed as ideology-driven," said James Frayne of the consulting firm Public First to the online portal Politico.


Source: spiegel

All business articles on 2023-02-01

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