Half a million workers went on strike in Britain on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, calling for higher wages in the largest such walkout in over a decade, closing schools and severely disrupting transport, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.
Photo Insert: Britain has witnessed months of strikes by tens of thousands of workers -- including postal staff, lawyers, nurses, and employees in the retail sector.
Europe is battling a cost-of-living crisis and the latest strikes come a day after more than 1.27 million took to the streets in France, upping pressure on the French government over pension reform plans.
Britain's umbrella labor organization, the Trades Union Congress (TUC), called it the "biggest day of strike action since 2011." Teachers and train drivers were among the latest groups to act, as well as border force workers at UK air and seaports.
"We are striking because for the past 10 years we had effectively had a pay cut," said job center worker and union representative Graham, who preferred not to give his last name. "Some of our members, even though they are working, still have to make visits to food banks," he told AFP.
"Not only are wages not keeping up, but things like fares, council tax and rents are going up. Anything we get is eaten away."
Britain has witnessed months of strikes by tens of thousands of workers -- including postal staff, lawyers, nurses, and employees in the retail sector -- as UK inflation raced above 11 percent, the highest level in more than 40 years.
The latest official data show 1.6 million working days were lost from June-November 2022 because of strikes -- the highest six-month total in more than three decades -- the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
A total of 467,000 working days were lost to walkouts in November alone, the highest level since 2011. Alongside the strikes, unions are also staging rallies across the country against the Conservative government's plans to legislate against public sector strike action.
Organized by the TUC, the nationwide protests will insist that "the right to strike is a fundamental British liberty", said the group's General Secretary Paul Nowak.