Britain in the grip of protests

LONDON – A new field day in the trenches of social protests rocking the UK in the name of a wave of demands to adjust wages to suit the cost of living after years of austerity, contractual ceilings on increases, Finally, the repercussions of the pandemic and the closure.

The escalation was marked by the coordinated and simultaneous strike carried out today – in open defiance of Rishi Sunak’s Conservative government, as well as his corporate counterparts – by a wide range of constituencies in the public sector: including, for the first time in this season of intense discontent, My teachers are 85% from over 23,000 non-private schools in EnglandWales and two counties in Scotland. Rampages also included train drivers, bus drivers, university employees, and customs officials at ports or airports. Combined, they have mobilized nearly half a million workers, largely crippling key sectors of life for millions of people and families such as education or rail transport, amid images of semi-abandoned stations, closed schools and empty offices. The huge crowds that have rallied in the past few days in Paris and the rest of France against the tightening of pensions have not been seen in the streets; But participation in the sit-ins promoted by the various trade unions on the island was compressed. Enough to force nearly 90% of participating schools, for example, to close partially or completely this morning.

Abandoned station in London

The scene looked as close as possible general strike (which British legislation makes almost impossible in a legal framework): an unprecedented framework “for at least 12 years” of the number of workers and groups affected in unison, according to Workers’ Union Conference (TUC), the control room for cross-channel union movement. Prime Minister Sunak, at traditional question time on Wednesdays in the House of Commons, insisted on denying that he wanted a full confrontation, but also on invoking “reasonableness” against “unsustainable” requests for account-keeping, on pain of stoking an inflationary spiral that is just beginning to slow. from its recent peak of 10% and has cast a shadow of recession. While he did not hesitate to point the finger at teachers (the last strike was in 2016) recalling – in agreement with the Minister for Education, Gillian Keegan – “the right of children and young people to be able to go to school”.

But the unions responded by attributing executive negotiations and ideological hardening in the face of a collapse in purchasing power to the salaries of many civil servants close to the gas pipeline. Meanwhile, the battle does not stop. Next week, the healthcare world will be back on the scene (Currently not involved) – In the midst of record waiting lists, staffing shortages exacerbated by the post-Brexit situation, wages not being sufficiently updated for some time, and fatigue caused by the Covid emergency – with third tranche of nurses’ strikes since December Service National Health Service (NHS) scheduled for 6 and 7 February. Not without overlapping on the first day with another stop for the ambulance workers (which will be repeated on the tenth day, except for changes) and with the first agitation of the midwives. While waiting for the cut-off time announced by firefighters registered with the Firefighters Union (Fbu). As well as the recovery – despite today’s only revised over-wage offer – of very hard wages A dispute between the railway workers of the Rmt, the most aggressive of the unions And the organizer of the current stage, the pioneer of the struggles in these months since the fall behind the leadership of Mick Lynch: such a rigid platform as the undisciplined one that has become a symbol (in the media and in the squares) of a challenge that he did not bring. only for conservative or corporate government, but also, as a platform, For workers absent from the barricades – when not hostile – under the new moderate leadership of Mr. Keir Starmer. The challenge is driven by the stated intent to use the predicament of the existential emergency on the cost of living to try to foster a new, expanded working class: able, who knows, to return as a counterweight to the “establishment system.”

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Maggie Benson

"Bacon trailblazer. Certified coffee maven. Zombie lover. Tv specialist. Freelance communicator."

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