The concentration of strikes this Wednesday in sectors from education to the railway – which is already considered the day with the largest mobilizations in the United Kingdom since 2011 – intensified the fight against the conservative government of Rishi Sunak, who for the moment remains firm in their positions.
It is estimated that half a million people supported the strikes which, without completely paralyzing the country, did significantly alter the daily life of a large part of the British.
If the railway employees have been on strike for months now, the great novelty today was brought by the incorporation into the social mobilization of school teachers in England and Wales, as well as that of 100,000 civil servants from various ministerial departments.
According to the National Education Union (NEU), some 300,000 schoolteachers supported the strike. The Ministry of Education assured that according to its data, one in ten centers could not open their doors, while 45% had to restrict classes.
The teachers held a massive demonstration through the streets of central London to show their “fed up” with the loss of purchasing power suffered in recent years and aggravated by inflation, which last December stood at 10.5%.
“I have been teaching for over 15 years and we have been in austerity for most of that time. Now more than ever we must stand up for our rights. This is not just about teachers and their pay, it is about an education system that has been decimated in recent years,” teacher Katie Pierce, a participant in the protest, told Efe.
Next to her, her partner Jane Vassal recognized that this was the first demonstration in which she had participated in her life.
And both called attention, like the majority of those present, about the “trap” that they consider the Executive has set for them to improve their salaries.
“The only salary alternative that the Government gives us comes from each school’s own budget, which means that if we raise the salary it will be at the expense of the money that goes to the children,” Pierce explained.
Sunak Does Not Yield
Despite the fact that the temperature rises in the streets, Sunak, who celebrates one hundred days as prime minister this Thursday, does not seem to compromise.
His position, as he never tires of repeating, is based on a clear foundation: if wages are raised at the rate that inflation grows, it will never go down.
In the control session to the Government today in Parliament, the prime minister claimed that teachers have just been granted “the biggest raise in 30 years”, and defended that “children deserve to be able to go to school”.
He also did not miss the opportunity to send a dart in the direction of the Labor opposition, and its leader, Keir Starmer: “The opposite party would do well to say that strikes are not right and to support children going back to school.”
Sources from Downing Street, the Prime Minister’s office, later elaborated on that idea by recalling that “today many children cannot receive the education they need, especially considering that during the pandemic so many people lost classes.”
These same sources insisted that the Executive will continue to abide by the recommendations made by the independent body that annually establishes salary guidelines for public employees.
In the three months prior to November, salaries in the private sector rose an average of 7.1% compared to the previous year, while in the public sector the rise remained at 3.3%.
After months of social conflict, the situation does not seem to be advancing and new strikes by nurses and ambulance personnel are expected in the coming months in sectors such as the health sector.
In addition, the government’s intention to pass a law in Parliament that would introduce minimum services in the event of a strike for the first time has put the unions on a war footing, which vow to continue their fight.
This article is originally published on elperiodicodemexico.com