an end of the year marked by an unprecedented social movement

It has been forty years since the United Kingdom had known such a social movement: more than a million workers are preparing to strike, between December 12 and 31, at the call of their various trade union federations, risking to paralyze part of the country during the holiday season. The railway workers, already mobilized since the summer, will disengage for at least eight days: dozens of trains from London, but also in the Midlands and the north of England, will be canceled, fourteen railway operators will be affected .

Some 115,000 employees of Royal Mail (the Post Office, privatized in the early 2010s), who have already accumulated twelve days of strikes since July, have left for another ten days off work since December 9. Baggage handlers will strike at Heathrow airport in London, as will Eurostar security personnel. From December 22, motorway personnel will in turn enter the dance in Greater London and the south of England, as well as customs officers, from December 24, at Heathrow and Gatwick, the other London airport.

Even more symbolic, in a country that worships its hospital system – the National Health Service (NHS) – public and free but increasingly failing, paramedics are expected to stop work on December 21 and more than 100,000 nurses and nurses from around fifty hospitals voted to strike for December 15 and 20, at the call of their union, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), for the first time since the creation of the latter, it a hundred and six years ago. And that’s not counting with teachers or novice doctors, also “most likely ready” to work stoppages in early 2023, according to the British Medical Association.

Read also: In the United Kingdom, a historic strike by nurses, whose real salary has fallen by 20% since 2010

At the heart of this social uproar, there are wage demands, while in the public or parapublic service, the increases proposed by employers do not exceed 5%, inflation reached 11.1% over one year in October and that average wages have stagnated for a decade, a consequence of the era of austerity initiated in 2010 by the Cameron government.

Right to strike seriously hampered

According to figures from the British Trade Union Confederation (TUC), employees lost on average and in real value 20,000 pounds sterling (around 23,230 euros) between 2008 and 2021. Faced with energy prices which have doubled and food prices that have jumped 16% in one year, living decently with these salaries becomes difficult – especially in London, where rents are prohibitive.

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