UK: Four questions on the massive anti  inflation strikes crippling the country

UK: Four questions on the massive anti inflation strikes crippling the country

They are referred to as “tantrums”. The UK has been caught up in a days-long anti-inflation mobilization since the beginning of the summer, which is hitting the country harder than its European neighbors. The movement increased on Thursday 18 August with massive strikes. Many sectors, including transport, have called a strike to demand wage increases. On Friday, the London Underground was almost completely paralyzed and on Saturday only one in five trains is still running in the country. Already in June, 50,000 train drivers went on strike to denounce “thousands of planned layoffs”.

Why are prices rising? What are the employees asking for? How long can mobilization last? response items.

Why is inflation so high?

Cross-Channel inflation hit 10.1% in July – versus 6.1% in France – and could hit 13% in October, a level not seen in 30 years. This makes the United Kingdom the G7 country with the highest inflation. This general price increase is mainly explained by the explosion in energy prices in connection with the war in Ukraine.

Unlike France, the UK has not introduced tariff protection for gas and electricity prices. British households have thus been hit hard. Thousands of Brits are also threatening to stop paying their bills from October 1 if prices don’t go down.

What claims do the employees have?

The striking employees are demanding inflation-level wage increases of 13%. So far, your claim has found no echo. Rail workers have rejected an offer of an 8% pay rise by private company Network Rail in exchange for agreeing to reforms to modernize the company. The unions accuse the private company of actually wanting to carry out mass layoffs.

Workers in London’s public transport sector, who have been hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and are looking for permanent financing solutions, are also on strike to ensure that jobs, pensions and working conditions are preserved.

How do politicians react?

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps criticized the unions for rejecting Network Rail’s 8% offer without putting it to a vote by their members. “If the union bosses would just make this offer to their members, I guess this strike would be over,” he told the BBC.

Liz Truss, favorite in the race to succeed Boris Johnson at Downing Street, also accused the unions of blocking the situation. “As Prime Minister, I will not allow our country to be blackmailed by militant unionists,” she said in a tweet. The Conservative has promised to crack down on the strike if she becomes Prime Minister.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has accused the Conservative government of “deliberately pressuring (the unions) to go on strike in London”. Labor also said it understood the strikers’ demands, although it did not support the movement. “I think strikes are a sign of failure, but it’s important to understand the frustrations and concerns of transport workers,” he told Sky News.

How long should these strikes last?

Maritime and Transport (RMT) union general secretary Mick Lynch has warned that the rail workers’ strike could “continue indefinitely” unless a satisfactory agreement is reached. In Felixtowe, the country’s largest cargo port, dockers handed in an eight-day strike notice starting Sunday. This mobilization threatens to bring much of Britain’s freight traffic to a halt. This port had not seen a strike since 1989.

“I think the British public is tired of being duped by this government and by British companies with companies like BP and British Gas making huge profits while people struggle to make a living,” he said. explained Mick Lynch on the BBC on Saturday (in English).