Day of disruption in UK as hundreds of thousands join strike
LONDON (AP) — Thousands of schools in the United Kingdom closed some or all of their classrooms, train services were paralysed and delays were expected at airports Wednesday in what's shaping up to be the biggest day of industrial action Britain has seen in more than a decade, as unions step up pressure on the government to demand better pay amid a cost-of-living crisis.
The Trades Union Congress, a federation of unions, estimated that up to half a million workers, including teachers, university staff, civil servants, border officials and train and bus drivers, will walk out of their jobs across the country.
More action, including by nurses and ambulance workers, is planned for the coming days and weeks.
Britons have endured months of disruptions to their daily lives as a bitter dispute over pay and work conditions drags on between unions and the government.
But Wednesday's strikes mark an escalation of disruptive action across multiple key industries.
The last time the country saw mass walkouts on this scale was in 2011, when well over 1 million public sector workers staged a one-day strike in a dispute over pensions.
Union bosses say that despite some pay rises — such as a 5% offer the government proposed to teachers — scores of public sector workers have been plunged into financial difficulty because their wages failed to keep pace with soaring inflation, meaning they have effectively been taking a pay cut.
The Trades Union Congress, or TUC, said Wednesday the average public sector worker is 203 pounds a month worse off compared with 2010, once inflation has been taken into account.
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