UK Unions Plan ‘Synchronized’ Strikes as BoJo Blames Russia for Cost-of-Living Crisis
06:07 GMT 28.08.2022 (Updated: 15:20 GMT 28.05.2023)
On Friday, at least 115,000 postal workers took to the streets across the UK to demand a “dignified and proper pay raise." The strike became one of the country’s biggest walkouts in more than a decade and came amid skyrocketing inflation and soaring energy bills.
The UK’s biggest unions, including Unison and Unite, are considering launching a coordinated labor strike this autumn in response to the worsening cost of living crisis in Britain
, the Observer has reported.
According to the newspaper, Unison and Unite are expected to table motions ahead of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in September, which will enable them to synchronize strike dates and targets to ensure the greatest impact on services.
Unite reportedly urged the TUC to “facilitate and encourage industrial coordination between unions so workers in dispute can most effectively harness their union power to win.”
A separate motion from Unison argues that the cost of living crisis is a “low pay crisis,” also calling on the TUC to coordinate union action to campaign for pay rises “at least in line with inflation,” the Observer said.
26 August 2022, 14:05 GMT
Calls for a “general strike” have also been supported by union leaders from the Communication Workers Union (CWU) and National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), whose members walked out in a separate incident earlier this week.
In an CWU demonstration on Friday, more than 100,000 people took to the streets across Britain to protest a scanty pay raise amid the cost-of-living crisis, exacerbated by soaring food and fuel prices.
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch previously put his weight behind a coordinated industrial strike, saying in an interview with Sky News, “I think there will be generalized and synchronized action. It may not be in a traditional form”.
According to him, “There is a massive response coming from working people, because they’re fed up with the way they’ve been treated.”
With the TUC yet to comment on suggestions of coordinated walkouts, its General Secretary Frances O’Grady earlier stressed that “the right to strike is a fundamental British liberty – and no one takes the decision to strike lightly.”
BoJo Pledges UK Will Resolve 'Tough Times Ahead'
The Observer’s report comes as outgoing UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson argued in his think piece for the Daily Mail that although Britain will face “very tough months ahead,” the country will “come through this well” and “emerge stronger and more prosperous.”
Johnson urged Britons to keep their nerve and “ignore Labour and the union barons with their calls for endless fools’ gold – inflationary pay rises and taxpayer-funded support to some of the richest households.”
He routinely blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin
for the UK’s cost of living crisis, citing the UK government’s “long term decisions […] to ensure that our [Britain’s] bounceback can and should be remarkable and that our future will be golden.”
“It is Putin’s war that is costing British consumers. That is why your energy bill is doubling. I am afraid Putin knows it. He likes it. And he wants us to buckle,” the PM claimed, in an apparent nod to the ongoing Russian special military operation in Ukraine.
The remarks followed a new poll revealing that conservative voters reject Foreign Secretary Liz Truss’s plans to tackle the energy crisis ahead of massive autumn price hikes.
According to the survey, at least 57% of respondents are “not confident” that Truss – a Tory leadership frontrunner to succeed Johnson – had a clear-cut plan for the economy, especially in light of the UK energy regulator Ofgem’s recent announcement of an 80% increase in the energy price cap to 3,549 pounds ($4,194) per year starting October 1.
Truss Reportedly Plans to Cut VAT by 5%
The Telegraph has, meanwhile, reported that Truss is allegedly considering slashing the VAT by 5% to ease the cost of living crisis. According to the newspaper, the foreign secretary discussed the move with her advisors as part of a host of steps to tackle soaring energy bills.
The decision is thought to be based on former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s move to cut the VAT from 20% to 17.5% in December 2008 following the global financial crash.
The Telegraph cited an unnamed source as saying that “cutting VAT is the nuclear option” and that “they [the Treasury] have talked about the Gordon Brown approach that he took at the time, when it looked as though consumer confidence was falling.”
“They are talking about the last big economic shock that hit the whole economy and consumers in 2008, and the Treasury’s response to that,” the source added.
Truss is seen as favourite to win the Tory leadership contest to become the new UK prime minister on September 5.
26 August 2022, 06:14 GMT
Russia launched its special operation to demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine
on February 24th following requests from the Donbass republics to protect them from Kiev’s provocations, in what was followed by the US and its allies slapping a set of “severe” sanctions on Moscow.
In the wake of the move, inflation has skyrocketed in many Western countries, driving energy prices to record numbers. Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin emphasized that the anti-Russian sanctions inflict more damage on those imposing them than on Moscow.