February 24, 2024

Millions of Britons are on strike – ZDFheute

The largest strike in more than a decade began in Great Britain on Wednesday.Source: German News Agency


Today the “winter of discontent” in Great Britain reaches its climax with the largest strike in decades. It is estimated that half a million employees in many industries have stopped working. They are demonstrating primarily for higher wages, but also for better working conditions – and for the right to strike.

The British are threatened with stopping

Seven unions coordinated the national day of protest and called on their members to take industrial action. Large parts of the United Kingdom are facing a standstill. Downing Street warned of “major disruption”.

What is sick Great Britain? Employees have been striking repeatedly for weeks. No way out in sight:

Teachers, train drivers, university lecturers, government employees, bus drivers and security guards are striking at the same time. There is great dissatisfaction in all sectors. The National Education Union assumes that teaching in 85% of schools in England and Wales has been affected, with more than 100,000 teachers wanting to strike.

Call for strike in 124 government agencies

Education Minister Gillian Keegan indicated that discussions with unions were continuing. She told the Radio Times this morning about the raid:

I am disappointed (…) that the unions made this decision. It is not a last resort.

Gillian Keegan, Education Secretary of Great Britain
In addition to the Teachers Union, the Public Sector Union of the Palestine Circus School called on about 100,000 members in 124 government agencies to strike. More strikes were announced in the coming days. The fact that firefighters recently voted in favor of strikes is likely to cause further headaches for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's Conservative government.

Demand: Increase wages in line with inflation

The strikers are united primarily by demanding an increase in their wages in line with inflation. Consumer prices have recently risen by a good ten percent. The government provides teachers with an additional five percent salary. Very little, the Near East University Teachers Union complained and asserted:

It is not about increasing salaries, it is about correcting historical reductions in real wages.

New British Teachers Union

The industrial dispute for health workers has been going on for some time:

01/11/2023 | 02:07 minutes


Sunak refuses to renegotiate

The government refuses to renegotiate and Prime Minister Sunak has confirmed that his door is always open for negotiations. However, this does not appear to apply to salary discussions. The 42-year-old has repeatedly warned that an increase in line with inflation would only fuel the “vicious cycle” of ever-rising consumer prices.

The controversial government project also arouses employee dissatisfaction. Sunak and his business minister Grant Shapps are tired of the industrial disputes that have persisted since last summer and want the right to strike restricted under the law. Sunak says this should guarantee basic services.

The right to strike should be widely restricted

Shapps defended his draft as providing a fair balance between the right to strike and the needs of the population.

People do not have the freedom to choose when they need an ambulance or the fire department.

Grant Shapps, British Business Secretary

On Monday, the House of Commons, dominated by conservatives, approved the law on its third reading. But resistance is expected in the Senate. Labor deputy leader Angela Rayner describes the law as a “nurses' sack bill” – and it appears to strike a chord. In opinion polls, the majority supports the strikers. In the eyes of many, the government is to blame for the chaos.

Due to the high cost of living crisis, these strikes can no longer be portrayed as ideologically motivated…

James Frain, Publics First

…says James Frayne of consulting firm Public First. He explains in the online portal “Politico” that the government's noticeable stubbornness affects the numbers of opinion polls. Labor has clearly been in the lead for months and there is no sign of a turnaround yet. As of now, Conservatives have to fear disaster in the general election scheduled for 2024.

However, Sunak will not give up, his party colleagues say. “We have to keep our nerve,” Politico quoted a conservative member of parliament as saying. Inflation will fall further soon, which will ease pressure on consumers. “That's why we have to stay as tough as possible.”

Source: Benedikt von Imhof, German Press Agency

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