Dockers strike deepens UK crisis as cost of living bites
By Viviana García
London, Aug 23 (EFE).- Docker strikes at the English port of Felixstowe, which handles nearly 50% of the United Kingdom’s container traffic, are the latest in a raft of industrial action slated across several sectors over pay and conditions amid a cost of living crisis and runaway inflation.
The eight-day strike by some 2,000 workers at Felixstowe will run until August 29 and halt operations at the Suffolk port, with palpable consequences for the country’s economy.
It is the first British dockers strike since 1989 and is taking place amid separate industrial action in the British railway network, including the London Underground, over the summer period.
Unite, the union that represents the dockers, is pushing for a pay rise above the 7% offered by employers. The UK’s inflation has already hit double figures for the first time in 40 years, at 10.1%, and is expected to rise further.
In Scotland, garbage collectors are on strike in several areas over a salary dispute, leaving trash to pile up in the streets.
Unite, which also represents the garbage collectors, has rejected an offer of a 5% pay rise. The strikes are due to last until August 30 in just over a dozen locations, including Edinburgh.
Brain Robertson, secretary of Unite’s Edinburgh branch, told Efe that the cost of living crisis was “rising exponentially.”
“The workers are very worried,” he said, listing electricity prices, food and heating as just a few of the points of concern.
The strikes were called to coincide with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival.
Neil Mackay, who spoke to Efe in the streets of the Scottish capital, said he felt sorry for the workers but disagreed with the timing.
“It’s a shame it has come to this,” he said.
Criminal barristers in England and Wales also announced they would go on strike indefinitely from September 5 amid a dispute with the government over jobs and salaries.
The CBA union, which represents the sector, demands a higher increase than that offered by the Ministry of Justice — 15% — for lawyers who represent clients who otherwise could not afford legal expenses.
The halt could create a backlog of thousands of cases.
The disgruntled rumblings across UK industry comes as the country awaits the appointment of a new prime minister to replace Boris Johnson in a Conservative Party election process due to conclude on September 5.
Either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak will take to the helm of a new government.EFE