The “truce” after the death of Elizabeth II is over. British rail is almost at a standstill on Saturday after the main rail unions decided on a new day of collective mobilisation, the biggest strike of the year, to demand higher wages in the face of record inflation. It is the first time this year that four transport unions – RMT, Unite, Aslef, TSSA – have coordinated for a joint day of action.
Only 11% of trains will run in the country, with many regions without any service. With an apology on the BBC to users for the expected disruption, the general secretary of the RMT Mick Lynch wanted to justify this strike. “The government has provoked this conflict” by proposing “to cut our jobs, reduce our pensions and reduce our wages in the face of inflation”, he thundered.
Football derby, Conservative Congress, London marathon…
British households are facing inflation of almost 10% and are worried about whether they will be able to keep warm or pay their mortgage this winter. Despite announcing a freeze on energy price caps, prices have doubled in a year and the government, which has been in office for less than a month, is more unpopular than ever.
The strike is likely to disrupt Arsenal and Tottenham fans visiting London on the day of the derby between the two north London football clubs. It also comes on the eve of the launch in Birmingham of the Conservative Party’s annual conference and as the London Marathon takes place on Sunday, which attracts tens of thousands of people to the British capital.
Railway workers, but also dock workers, postal workers, criminal lawyers or garbage collectors have multiplied strikes since June to demand wage increases in light of the cost of living crisis. Several unions, mainly representing railway workers, had announced a ceasefire in their mobilization after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, but the movements have since resumed with a vengeance. New strikes on trains and the London Underground are also planned for next week.