October 3, 2022

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In the UK, the wage wave is intensifying

On Thursday, August 18, British trains went on strike and traffic was severely affected. The next day, the London Underground came to a standstill. Two days later, the trains were stopped again. On Sunday, it was the dockers’ turn Port de Felixtowe, in the East of England, to begin an eight-day strike. On Monday, August 22, there was also anger at the lawyers, who voted by a very large majority to strengthen the strike movement that began in April. Garbage is piling up in Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, after garbage collectors have been on strike for nearly a week.

read more: The article is reserved for our subscribers In England, the “Summer of Discontent” brings people to the streets

Almost every day, the United Kingdom faces a new movement of enthusiasm from employees. “Summer of Discontent”, as it is nicknamed, starts in June and makes it difficult. Since the “Winter of Discontent” of 1979, which immobilized everything, it is now the biggest wave of strikes in thirty years.

In a country that has not seen any social movements since the 1990s, there has been no major demonstration or real coordination of action. In front of the stations, a few dozen demonstrators sometimes gather, politely brandishing handfuls of signs. On Monday, in Felixstowe, the kingdom’s largest container port, fewer than a hundred people wearing pink or red fluorescent vests appeared on dry grass near their workplaces.

Inflation shock

The lack of habit against strikes – in Felixstowe, it has not happened for thirty years – makes the generalized movement that grips the country even more pregnant. “At the port, the employees are not really fighters. Unite union representative for the transport sector, Robert Morton, underlines. But they cannot allow their wages to be wiped out by inflation. »

Each outing has its peculiarities, but all converge on one point: the shock of 10.1% (or 12.3% depending on indicators) inflation across the Channel in July was violent. On a year-over-year basis, average pay, including bonuses, rose 5.1% in the second quarter, reflecting a 3% decline in purchasing power. You have to go back to the financial crisis of 2008 to find such a pronounced decline. This is probably just the beginning: the Bank of England expects inflation to reach 13% in the coming months. According to analysts at US bank Citi, they expect even 18% in January 2023.

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