Edited by He Xiaotao Li Zedong
According to the latest news from CCTV News, on February 2 local time, the Bank of England, the Bank of England, announced an interest rate hike of 50 basis points.Raise the benchmark interest rate to 4%.This is the 10th consecutive rate hike by the Bank of England since December 2021.
According to a CCTV news report on February 2, due to the impact of rising energy prices and high inflation levels, on February 1 local time, nearly 500,000 employees in various industries in the UK held a nationwide general strike.
It is reported that the practitioners who went on strike that day involved teachers, civil servants, railway workers, bus drivers, security personnel and other fields.
According to the Daily Mail,The strike closed 23,000 schools, millions of people were working from home, and caused economic losses of up to 200 million pounds.
The “Sun” used “shutdown” to describe the state of the UK that day, and pointed out that because airport employees also joined the strike force, there were long queues at some airports.
London restaurants have also been affected as many office workers are forced to work from home, the Financial Times said.
The Guardian said,A strike by train drivers has brought most of England’s lines to a complete standstill.Train drivers will hold a second strike on the 3rd of this month, and British railway traffic will be affected again.
It was also reported thatParticipants included 300,000 teachers and 100,000 civil servants.
Image source: Visual China VCG111420540265
Some analysts said that this round of strikes is different from the previous rounds. It was not only called the “biggest strike in 12 years” in the UK by many foreign media, but also caused even the ruling Conservative Party to fight against each other because the strike team included government civil servants. ridicule within.
However, in the face of the raging wave of strikes, British politicians are still bucking the blame.
On the day of the strike, British Prime Minister Sunak argued in a debate in the House of Commons that the government had taken measures and was taking measures to curb inflation. Sunak also accused the opposition Labor Party of failing to take steps to stop the strike.
In response, Labor leader Starmer responded that the Conservative Party was responsible for the general strike because the government failed to address the concerns of public sector service workers.
According to a report released by the International Monetary Fund recently, the UK will be the only economy in the Group of Seven that will shrink this year. The agency predicts that the British economy will decline by 0.6% this year, a sharp reduction of 0.9 percentage points from its October forecast, citing rising interest and tax rates and government spending restrictions that will exacerbate the cost of living crisis.
The International Monetary Fund also predicts that the British economy will only recover slowly in 2024, with a growth rate of 0.9%, ranking at the bottom of the G7 along with Japan and Italy.
Why strike?Wages can’t beat inflation
According to Red Star News citing data from the Office of National Statistics of the United Kingdom, between August and October last year, the average salary in the public sector, excluding bonuses, increased by 2.7%.But at the same time, inflation is above 10%, the highest level in 40 years.In the four weeks to January 22 this year, UK food price inflation hit a record 16.7%. Multiple data means that the quality of life of the British people has declined and their job satisfaction has declined.
According to the Wall Street Journal report, these strikes reflect a growing challenge facing the United Kingdom and some European countries: how to avoid further inflation without further damaging public finances after years of high spending. , addressing the decline in real wages for many public sector workers.
Inflation trends in the UK over the past 10 years (Source: ONS)
The strikers are demanding wage increases above the country’s inflation to pay for skyrocketing food and energy bills. They say current wages are making it difficult to cover these high bills. According to the Office for National Statistics, although UK inflation hit a 40-year high last year, average wages in the UK public sector, excluding bonuses, rose by only 2.7% between August and October last year; Wages in the country’s private sector rose by 6.9%.
Although inflation in the UK has started to ease slightly recently, it remains at record highs, particularly in areas that affect low-paid workers the most.Grocery prices rose by a record 16.7% in the four weeks to January 22.
According to estimates by the British Center for Economic and Business Research, the economic losses caused by the strike in the eight months to January 2023 will be about 1.7 billion pounds (about 2.09 billion U.S. dollars), accounting for about 0.1% of the UK’s estimated GDP. It is also estimated that the current teachers’ strike in the UK is costing around £20m a day.
However, a UK-wide strike could have political implications for Sunak’s government. Sunak’s Conservatives are already trailing Labor by 25 percentage points in polls, and surveys show the public thinks the government has handled the strikes very badly.
More than half of the public think Sunak’s government has done a terrible job of negotiating with unions to avoid public sector strikes, according to an Ipsos poll released on Wednesday. Just 17 per cent thought Sunak’s government had done a good job, while almost a third (31 per cent) said Keir Starmer’s Labor would have handled the situation better if it came to power .
people’s true feelings
Teachers’ real wages have been cut by 23% or more since 2010, according to teachers in England and Wales. Hannah Rice, a 32-year-old elementary school teacher who took part in the march, said she hoped the scale of the action would send a strong message to the government, “This government should be ashamed of the way they run … it’s clear people are not happy, it’s clear Change is needed.”
In addition, many strikers felt that their working conditions were poor and that they were severely understaffed, making their jobs dangerous. “This puts the patient’s life at risk.” A medical staff said.
There is another reason for this large-scale strike, because of a bill passed by the British House of Commons on Tuesday. The bill requires practitioners in health services, fire and rescue services, education, transportation and other industries to maintain essential services on strike days, otherwise they may be fired. In response, many unions in the UK responded that it was “wrong, unworkable and almost certainly illegal”. A British government spokesman explained on Wednesday that this was just an “extensive contingency plan” aimed at mitigating the negative impact of strike action.
Image source: Visual China VCG111420558654
Children cannot go to class normally, which also brings troubles to parents. “85% of schools in England and Wales are fully or partially closed and parents are being forced to work from home and care for their children.” Miranda Evans, 44, a policy and programs manager in South Wales, said she supported the strike , but since her three children cannot go to school, she has to take care of the children while working at home, which is very hard. “When I send emails, they all stay by my side, it’s stressful.”
Nurses, ambulance workers, paramedics, emergency call handlers and other healthcare workers are expected to stage more strikes next week, while firefighters will also strike this week. Mark Servotka, secretary-general of a trade union in the UK, believes that if the government does not take action, strikes in the UK will become more frequent, and more and more unions will join in. “We need money now,” he added.
The Sunak government has taken a tough line on union actions,Arguing that bowing to demands for sharply higher wages would further exacerbate Britain’s inflation problems, it also told people to brace for “major disruption”.
But few European countries have seen as many labor disputes as Britain’s recently, where strikes include the first strike by nurses in decades. There are a number of reasons behind this: years of falling real wages for public sector workers, a tighter labor market that has pushed private sector wages up faster, and more hawkish unions.
Expert: British economic woes are closely related to “Brexit”
According to CCTV news, Wang Shuo, a professor at the School of International Relations at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said in an interview with Global News that some of the economic difficulties that Britain is currently facing are closely related to “Brexit”.
The UK originally hoped that after the “Brexit”, it would “have both the fish and the bear’s paw”: on the one hand, it would not be bound by various EU rules, and it could sign free trade agreements with other countries and regions more widely and more easily, expanding the UK’s business opportunities; at the same time, it can maximize the continuation of some of the convenience brought by the original EU market.
But after “Brexit”, the UK found that although it signed a trade agreement with the EU, the two sides have a tariff agreement and a tariff boundary, and the EU did not give the green light to the financial industry that the UK values most. At the same time, after the UK left the EU, its own ability to resist risks has also declined, and its own market attractiveness has also declined, and the original idea has not been realized.
“Brexit” has aggravated some of the difficulties encountered by the United Kingdom and made its economic situation worse. It can be predicted that the economic problems in the UK will continue to exist for quite a long time.
edit |He Xiaotao Li Zedong Du Bo
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