MANCHESTER, England — Union actions across the U.K. demanding pay raises are drawing in tens of thousands as anger mounts about the hit workers are facing from inflation.
After two days of strike actions Aug. 18 and 20, members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union held solidarity rallies around the country.
Britain’s Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps complained that train cancellations on non-strike days were caused by workers refusing to work overtime. Shapps claims these were “unofficial” strikes.
“What’s ‘unofficial’ about taking your day off?” Jim Hopkins, train driver and Longsight branch secretary of the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen, told the Militant at the Manchester Piccadilly station picket line during an Aug. 13 strike. Bosses talk about “a work-life balance,” he said, but they “will stop at nothing for their profits.”
Some 1,900 dock-workers organized by Unite at Felixstowe, the U.K.’s largest container port, struck Aug. 21 for eight days, their first strike action in 30 years. A just-concluded four-week strike by 1,800 bus drivers working for Arriva in the northwest of England won an 11.1% pay increase backdated to April.
Royal Mail postal workers organized by the Communication Workers Union have set strikes over the next few weeks, and members of the same union working for British Telecom have set strikes for Aug. 30-31.
Recent weeks have also seen a spate of wildcat actions, including walkouts at seven Amazon depots where unions are not recognized, after bosses offered a 35 pence (41 cents) per hour raise. The Royal College of Nurses with close to half-a-million members will begin balloting for strike action Sept. 15 for the first time in the union’s history.