Workers in the United Kingdom are facing wage conditions all too familiar in the United States: At a time when inflation is running high, the below-inflation raises proposed by their employers amount to pay cuts. That’s driving tens of thousands of nurses, ambulance workers, rail operators, airport workers, teachers and other civil servants out of the workplace and onto the picket line.
The Public and Commercial Services Union has announced 100,000 of its members will hold a one-day strike on Feb. 1. The strike includes workers across 124 government departments.
“As the cost-of-living crisis worsens, with inflation at nearly 11%, members are saying they’ve had enough of being treated appallingly,” said the union in a public statement. “Our campaign is for a 10% pay rise, pensions justice, job security and no cuts in redundancy terms.”
On Jan. 16, the National Education Union (NEU) announced teachers would begin a series of strikes at schools in England and Wales, with the first set for Feb. 1 involving 300,000 teachers at 23,400 schools. The rail drivers’ union, ASLEF, announced members at 14 train companies will also strike Feb. 1.
U.K. workers are also protesting legal threats against the right to strike. Lawmakers recently advanced anti-strike legislation that requires certain sectors of the workforce to maintain “minimum service levels” during labor actions, blunting the impact of strikes. The Trades Union Congress, a federation of 48 unions representing 5.5 million workers, announced a national “protect the right to strike” action set for Feb. 1.