UK suffers worst year for strike action since 1989

Workers across a range of sectors from train drivers to teachers and healthcare staff have held strikes as inflation hits its highest in four decades

By Reuters

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Healthcare workers hold placards at a picket line outside St Thomas’ Hospital in London as the UK faced the biggest round of health service strikes. Nurses and ambulances staff stepped up their demands for better pay to combat the UK's cost of living crisis. — AFP file
Healthcare workers hold placards at a picket line outside St Thomas’ Hospital in London as the UK faced the biggest round of health service strikes. Nurses and ambulances staff stepped up their demands for better pay to combat the UK's cost of living crisis. — AFP file

Published: Tue 14 Feb 2023, 3:13 PM

The United Kingdom recorded the highest number of working days lost to labour disputes in 2022 for more than 30 years, official data showed on Tuesday, as a cost-of-living crisis led employees to walk out in demand of higher pay.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said nearly 2.5 million working days were lost to industrial action last year, the highest since 1989 when 4.1 million days were lost.

With inflation at its highest in four decades, workers across a range of sectors from train drivers to teachers and healthcare workers have held strikes over the last few months.

The ONS data showed 843,000 days were lost to strike action in December alone, with border force staff, around 100,000 nurses and thousands of ambulance workers among those who staged walkouts either in the run up to or during the Christmas period.

While some smaller disputes have been resolved, the most high-profile show little sign of abating.

Up to half a million teachers, civil servants, and train drivers walked out earlier this month in the largest coordinated strike action for a decade and many trade unions have further days of strike action scheduled.

The British government has so far refused to budge on public sector pay and is instead in the process of tightening laws to make it harder for those in key sectors to strike.

It says the pay rises being demanded are unaffordable and hiking pay to match inflation would only worsen the problem.


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