As many public sector unions go on strike in the final week before Christmas, the British government announced Sunday that it would send 1,200 soldiers to cover for striking ambulance drivers and border guards.
On Wednesday, ambulance crews are scheduled to go on strike, joining nurses, railroad employees, passport checkers, and postal workers in a series of upcoming walkouts.
In reaction to a cost-of-living crisis brought on by skyrocketing food and energy costs in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the U.K. is currently experiencing its most severe wave of strikes in decades.
The most significant amount in a decade, 417,000 working days, were lost to strikes in October.
Unions are pushing for salary increases to keep up with inflation, which was 10.7% in November, a 40-year high, albeit declining slightly from 11.1% in October.
The Conservative government has attempted to blame labor leaders for the unrest by claiming that double-digit raises will result in even higher inflation.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak referred to union leaders as “Grinches that aim to steal Christmas for their own political goals” in the tabloid Sun on Sunday.
“It would be irresponsible to allow public sector salaries and inflation to go out of control,” said cabinet minister Oliver Dowden.
The economy is improving, I believe. He advised the BBC not to jeopardize that by making these unreasonable demands.
The British government predicts that the public will turn against unions nationwide. hospital visits, rail cancellations, and travel delays are common throughout the winter holiday season.
But polls indicate that a significant portion of the public supports the employees, particularly nurses, whose strikes across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland are the first in the union’s 100-year history.
Despite being on strike, nurses and ambulance drivers said they would still respond to emergencies.
Onay Kasab, national lead officer of the Unite union, stated, “We’ve provided a commitment that our members will scramble off picket lines and get into ambulances if there are crises that need to be covered.”
He told the BBC, “We’re in the thick of winter, and our health service is struggling to keep up even on a typical day without industrial action.” Therefore, patients will face dangers.
There is no doubt about that.