February 1, 2023

UK hit by biggest strike in decade as schools, trains affected

UK hit by biggest strike in decade as schools, trains affected

By Biodun Busari

The United Kingdom was hit with biggest strike in decades as half a million workers staged a walkout on Wednesday, demanding higher wages as schools were shut and transport disrupted.

As Europe faces a cost-of-living crisis, the Trades Union Congress in Britain described the demonstration as the “biggest day of strike action since 2011.”

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has called for pay rises to be “reasonable” and affordable” warning that high pay rises would endanger efforts to address inflation, according to AFP.

Read also: Amazon’s workers stage first ever strike in UK

Reacting, unions have accused Sunak of not reckoning with the challenges faced by ordinary working people struggling to make ends meet in the face of low paid, insecure work and spiralling costs.

Teachers and train drivers were among the latest groups to act, as well as border force workers at UK air and seaports.

“The workload is always bigger and bigger and with the inflation, our salary is lower and lower,” a 57-year-old London teacher Nigel Adams told AFP.

“We’re exhausted. We’re paying the price and so are the children,” he added as protesters held up placards reading “Pay Up” and “We can’t put your kids first if you put their teachers last”.

Britain has witnessed months of strikes by tens of thousands of workers – including postal staff, lawyers, nurses and employees in the retail sector — as UK inflation raced above 11 percent, the highest level in more than 40 years.

Job centre worker and union representative, Graham, who preferred not to give his last name said workers had no choice but to strike faced with soaring costs.

“Some of our members, even though they are working, still have to make visits to food banks,” he said.

“Not only are wages not keeping up, but things like fares, council tax and rents are going up. Anything we get is eaten away,” he added.