For the second time in three days, a strike by railway workers paralyzes rail traffic in Great Britain on Friday, February 3, where social movements are not weakening in the face of soaring prices. On Wednesday February 1, they took part alongside teachers and civil servants in the most important social mobilization of the last decade in the United Kingdom.
The railway companies have announced major disruptions. Some have had to cancel all trips. The unions in the sector – the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (Aslef) and the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) – are calling for increases in line with inflation, which exceeds 10%, and better working conditions.
Representatives of the railway companies proposed to increase the wages of drivers by 8% over two years, which the unions rejected. “We are being asked to give up collective bargaining. It was obvious that this agreement was going to be rejected. It was designed to fail,” commented Simon Weller, on behalf of Aslef.
“We hoped that Aslef officials would participate constructively to move the negotiations forward rather than organizing new unnecessary strikes,” said the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the companies.
Social movements are multiplying in all sectors in the United Kingdom in the face of the rising cost of living. Next Monday, the nurses will be on strike again, after stopping work in December 2022 for the first time in their history.
These movements, on an unprecedented scale since the 1980s, have met with relative public support, especially in the health sectors, but the Conservative government is clinging to a firm position and wants to legislate to limit the right to strike.
In an interview with TalkTV Thursday night, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he would "love to give nurses a massive raise" if he could. "But it's a matter of choice," he added, saying the government had already injected "record sums" into the NHS, the public health service, despite the crisis.