• Features
  • Updated: January 28, 2023

UK Striking Workers, Inflation: Analysis Of Problems Under Rishi Sunak

UK Striking Workers, Inflation: Analysis Of Problems Under R

The United Kingdom has been experiencing strikes by workers across many sectors since 2022.

Workers have been protesting and staging walkouts over pay and better working conditions.

Whilst coupled with the effects of the COVID-19 setbacks, and inflation problems, the United Kingdom and its Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have lived through these hard times.

The year 2022 is one Brits will not forget in a hurry, coupled with lots of setbacks, the death of Queen Elizabeth and the drama that trailed Sunak’s accession and reign.

Sunak’s reign and inflation battle

Rishi Sunak became the PM of the United Kingdom in October last year, becoming the 57th individual to occupy the position after taking over from his predecessor, Liz Truss, who lasted just days in office.

He quickly worked to form a cabinet to steer the country to stability.

When he got elected, Rishi Sunak pledged to halve inflation in order to ease the cost of living.

Currently, the cost of living is alarming.

Inflation figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that the UK inflation jumped to 11.1% in October amid a huge rise in energy bills.

It was the highest in the three months Sunak was in office and was also the highest rate since October 1981; a 41-year high.

The exodus of the strike

Before Sunak assumed office, the UK has been experiencing strikes.

Strikes began in June 2022 after members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) voted to strike over planned changes to their pay and working conditions.

Soon after, they were joined by other trade union members working in other industries.

This included the health sectors, telecommunications, and postal service, among others.

What sectors are striking?

Different sectors have been championing the strike actions as hundreds of thousands of workers across multiple sectors have gone on strike in recent months.

Amid the celebration of Christmas, the industrial action disrupted livelihoods and continued into 2023.

Following repeated strikes before Christmas, and in January, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) union said that two new strikes will take place on February 6 and 7.

NHS physiotherapy staff across England are holding strikes and will also strike in Wales on 7 February.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy says it is seeking an above-inflation pay rise.

Ambulance workers also held strikes and will walk out again in February. The walkouts will take place on February 6 and 20 and March 6 and 20.

UK striking workers

Rail workers and train drivers will strike on February 1 and 3 after the Aslef members rejected a pay rise offer of around four per cent a year for two years.

Members of the Rail, Maritime, and Transport (RMT) union also said they will also strike on February 1 and 3.

The unions are in dispute with the government and rail companies about pay, job cuts and changes to terms and conditions.

The Teachers’ unions voted for strike action as the members of the National Education Union (NEU) have voted to continue the strike in February and March.

Teachers will strike on February 1, 15 and 16 March. Some areas will also see strikes on other days.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) will also strike at 150 universities across the UK for 18 days between February and March.

Postal workers, bus drivers, and civil servants are not left out too.

Around 100,000 civil servants will strike on February 1.

Union members in 124 government departments are among those taking part.

Sunak’s response

Last year, at the peak of the strikes, Sunak argued that the best way to help workers would be to reduce inflation as quickly as possible.

"I've acknowledged it is difficult for everybody because inflation is where it is.

"The best way to help them and help everyone else in the country is for us to get a grip and reduce inflation as quickly as possible", Sunak said.

UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak

And for months now, Sunak has insisted he will not back down amid the strikes, whilst also holding talks with the unions.

The armed forces were drafted in to cover some jobs, while the government has introduced an “anti-strikes” bill, which will restrict workers’ rights to withdraw their labour.

The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill was considered in the House of Commons on Monday, January 16, where MPs voted to give it a second reading.

The law will allow bosses to sue unions and sack employees if minimum levels are not met.

Are people in support of the strike?

According to a poll conducted by YouGov, many Brits showed support for some sectors that are demanding good pay and better working condition from the government.

The poll showed 68% of the respondents accepted the strikes by nurses.

The Paramedics had 67%, with Firefighters and Teachers posing 58% and 50% respectively.

Also, Royal Mail workers came up with 47%, Rail Workers and Border Control amassing 40% each, and Civil Servants racking up 36% support.

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