Strikes paralyze traffic in the summer

London. Inflation at its highest in 40 years and less money in the wallet: British trade unions are sounding the alarm. Real wages plunged 3.7 percent, the steepest decline since a record breaking in 2001.

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Public sector workers are particularly hard hit, the UK Statistics Authority recently announced the ONS. In many sectors, workers see only one solution: strikes. Trade unions talk about the “summer of discontent”, the summer of resentment. This can quickly become “summer of disturbances” – summer of disturbances.

The train drivers go on strike on Saturday

Next Saturday, it’s the driver’s turn. They are holding seven companies, and rail traffic across the country is likely to stop. “We want to be able to buy in 2022 what we managed to buy in 2021” Explained Mick Whelan, secretary general of the Aslef drivers’ union during the strike.

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Wednesday showed what can come to the country. RMT has called on a total of 40,000 rail workers and the state-owned operator of Network Rail to withdraw. Only every fifth train ran, sometimes nothing worked.

There are strikes in August

RMT Secretary General Mick Lynch has complained that the proposal for a four percent increase this year is “mean.” National Rail offers a further four percent more by 2023 – but only if workers accept new terms that RMT sees as putting jobs at risk.

“Strikes are our only way for both the rail industry and the government to understand that this dispute will continue until we reach an agreement,” Lynch said. On August 13, the Aslefa railway again, then RMT wants to go on strike again, 18 and 20 on the rail, and 19 on the London Underground.

“Strikes are the only way for us.”

Mick Lynch, RMT secretary general

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Strikes hit the country – certainly not by accident – in the first week of summer holidays and at the start of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham with athletes from all members of the confederation. Not only that, strikes are also taking place in other sectors, such as the post office or British Telecom, as well as at the important Felixstowe container port in the North Sea, to increase wages and cut jobs.

The government starts attacks on trade unions

The pressure on the outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his cabinet to negotiate a solution is enormous. But the conservative government clearly doesn’t feel like it. On the contrary, it carries out severe attacks on relationships.

The new law should mean that in the future labor disputes will end in failure. Then companies affected by the strike can hire low-cost temporary workers in a short time to avoid bottlenecks. Prime Minister Johnson touted Brexit as allowing Britain to build a “high wage, high skilled economy”. An economy of highly paid and highly qualified specialists. There is no more of this.

The new UK Prime Minister will be announced on September 5th

The Conservative Party in Great Britain wants to make a few votes by 5 September to choose a successor.

“In the face of militant union action that threatens to stop key public services, we acted swiftly to lift these onerous’ 70s-style restrictions.” Instead announced Economy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said it would break the power of union leaders to “blackmail” the country.

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In addition, penalties for unions are expected to increase significantly if the courts find strikes illegal. Foreign Minister Liz Truss, the favorite of Johnson’s successor, has announced similar plans.

A country threatened by social division

Now the country is threatened with a social split. In the face of falling polls due to multiple scandals in the Johnson administration, Conservatives are trying to exploit the strikes politically. They accuse the main opposition party, the Labor Party, which has traditionally been closely tied to unions, of fueling labor disputes. However, critics point out that the Tories have been in power since 2010 and have not proposed a solution.

The British economy is already struggling with enormous problems. Well over a million vacancies have to be filled and, in particular, service sectors such as the hotel industry are no longer able to find employees. The pandemic is to blame – the UK has not been crowned for a long time, but the number of infections is rising again – but so is Brexit. Because EU citizens need expensive work visas to leave the EU and the bureaucratic obstacles are high.

The trade unions therefore see that they have a strong position. They are already openly threatening a general strike if the government implements their plans. Be it the “summer of discontent” or the “summer of disruption” – it will always be restless.

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RND / dpa

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