Britain: strikes, demonstrations… why the country is facing one of its biggest social crises

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For several days, Britain has experienced one of its biggest social crises in the last forty years. Dock workers, railway workers, postal workers and many other employees from various professions are on strike. Everyone is calling for better wages to counter inflation. Meanwhile, the country is paralyzed.

that biggest strike engaged for decades continues in the United Kingdom. Since Thursday, August 18, the country has actually experienced one salvo of massive redundancies in transport, postal services or even ports. It is about one record inflation which abounds and consumes the purchasing power of the British.

This Monday, August 22, the dock workers also got into it. In the port of Felixstowe in eastern England, workers at the country’s largest cargo port have started an eight-day strike and threatened to stop much of the country’s freight traffic.

Unheard of since Thatcher

Postal workers, employees of the telecommunications operator BT, Amazon merchants, but also criminal lawyers or garbage collectors have also walked out or are planning to do so. The password is the same everywhere: employees are demanding wage increases in line with inflation, which reached 10.1% in July over a year and could exceed 13% in October.

On the transport side, the entire London network was on Friday almost paralyzed, and remained very disturbed throughout the weekend. The public network manager has encouraged users to avoid this form of transport.

Britain is facing the biggest rail strike since 1989, at the end of the Thatcher years. This mobilization could “continue indefinitely”, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch warns, with rail workers’ walkouts continuing in episodes since June due to a lack of pay agreement.

Ukraine, Brexit, Johnson…

This explosive inflation, which angers the British, is the result of several factors combined. On one side war in ukraine has had serious implications for the budget with prices skyrocketing, driven by gas prices on which the country is heavily dependent. On the other hand, supply chain disruptions and labor shortage in the wake of Covid-19 and Brexit also had an unprecedented impact on the budget.

Purchasing power is being eroded by record price rises, which “demonstrates the vital need (…) to defend the value of workers’ compensation”, Sharon Graham, general secretary of the Unite union, assured in a press release. the most important in the country. Another reason for union anger: the government has just changed the law to allow the use of substitutes to replace strikers.

As for negotiations with the government, everything seems to be blocked. After the announcement of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s impending departurethe time has come though, and ministers’ reactions to strike moves are not helping matters.

Transport Minister Grant Shapps is accused of block the situation and Liz Truss, the favorite in the race to succeed Boris Johnson in Downing Street, said the country should not “be held to ransom by trade unionists activists.” If no durable agreement is reached, these impressive strike movements can last over the summer.

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