Wrapped in woolen scarves and hats, carrying thermos bottles with coffee and tea, they protested in front of their hospitals. “With a heavy heart and cold hands” they stood in front of the doorways instead of their wards: tens of thousands of male and female nurses posed on Wednesday with their posters in front of English hospitals to demonstrate against “starvation wages and miserable labour”. Conditions”. The strike will last two full days for the first time, including Thursday – and is expected to run longer than February if the government does not agree to a compromise.
With their protracted labor dispute, those affected greatly intensified their labor. In many hospitals, which could barely meet daily requirements anyway, only the emergency services kept operations during the strike. Thousands of operations and medical appointments have been cancelled. Meanwhile, workers of other clinics and residents’ associations also plan to join the protest. Ambulance drivers went on strike again on Monday.
Teachers in labor disputes
And hospital staff aren’t alone in their discontent. Trains and buses would soon stop again for several days after all negotiations failed. The post office is also on strike again. Ministry officials and employees of important agencies, as well as university professors, joined these events.
In addition, hundreds of thousands of teachers in England want to stop working from February on days yet to be disclosed. Most schools are then expected to close for longer periods of time. In addition to strikes in hospitals, this will have a particularly noticeable effect – perhaps in the spring.
Teachers’ unions complain that real school wages have fallen by a quarter in the past 12 years and that current record inflation, still more than 10 percent, is “unmanageable” for many teachers. The government offered a wage increase of about five percent. The situation is similar for nursing staff in hospitals.
All in all, wages in the public services increased by just 3.3 percent in the previous year – in the private sector by 7.2 percent. Therefore campaigns focus primarily on the public sector. The trade union federation TUC is already planning a “National Day of Protest” in all spheres of society on the 1st of February.
There has not been a wave of industrial strikes since Margaret Thatcher. In the six months from June to November 2022 alone, more than 1.6 million working days were lost due to strikes. According to the Financial Times’ calculations, this is the largest number of strike days in the UK in 30 years.
Separate the troublemaker
After initially refusing to do so, Rishi Sunak’s government has since agreed to talks with trade unions, but refuses to fully adjust for inflation. She explained that giving in on her part would jeopardize the fight against inflation, which should be the absolute priority at the moment.
The situation has also been exacerbated by the new anti-strike laws that Snack has now introduced to parliament. Their purpose is to enable the government to guarantee a “minimum service” in certain areas of work during times of strike and to expel rebel attackers if necessary. This should apply directly to hospitals, ambulances, railways and fire brigades.
However, it should be possible to extend it to schools and universities, the field of border security and decommissioning of nuclear power plants and other sectors, as appropriate. Paul Nowak, general secretary of the TUC, called this “draconian” law “undemocratic, impractical and possibly even illegal”. Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the Labor Party, spoke of a “violation of civil rights principles” – of curtailing “the freedoms we have fought for for centuries”.
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