Widening social storm and new strikes paralyze Great Britain – the world
A new field day in the trenches of the social protests rocking the United Kingdom in the name of a wave of demands regarding the adjustment of wages to the cost of living after years of austerity, contractual ceilings on increases, and finally the repercussions of the pandemic and the closure. The escalation was marked by the coordinated and synchronized strike carried out today – in open defiance of Rishi Sunak’s Conservative government, as well as his corporate counterparts – by a wide range of groups in the public sector: including, for the first time in this season of great discontent, teachers in 85 % of more than 23,000 private schools in England and Wales 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 sit-ins promoted by trade unions on the island was strong. Enough to force nearly 90% of participating schools, for example, to close partially or completely this morning. And the panorama seemed as close as possible to a general strike (which British legislation makes in a legal framework almost impossible): an unprecedented picture “for at least 12 years” of the number of workers and groups engaged in unison, according to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), the control room of the movement trade union through the channel. 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 (today uninvolved) world of healthcare will be back on the scene — in full turmoil amid record waiting lists, staffing shortages exacerbated by post-Brexit, wages that haven’t been updated enough for some time, and fatigue from Covid emergency – with the third installment since December of NHS nurse strikes scheduled for 6th and 7th 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).
In addition to the resumption – though the offer was revised upwards on wages today only – of the very difficult dispute between the railway workers of the Rmt, the most aggressive and organized union in the present stage, and the forerunner of the struggles in these months since the autumn behind the leadership of Mick Lynch: as a draped tribune with iron as the well-established tribune which became a symbol (in the media and in the squares) of a challenge brought not only to Tory or corporate government, but also, as a platform, to the Labor party absent from the barricades – when not hostile – under the direction of Sir Keir Starmer’s new moderates. 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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