Friday, 25 November 2011

Strikes Plague the UK


Public sector workers across the UK will go on a massive planned strike on November 30 in response to pension changes proposed by the government.

In October, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said that there was simply “no more money on the table” for retirement pensions as the British government experiences budget constraints. The government’s proposal is for public sector workers, excluding armed forces, police, fire service, and prison officers, to pay 3.2% more on average in annual pension contributions between 2012 and 2014. Moreover, these workers would have to retire at an older age and receive their full pension at the age of 66 instead of the current 60.

The government claimed that these changes are necessary as the gap between the pension contributions and pension payments would likely double over the next four years to £9 billion. And the reason for this widening gap is due to the increase in longevity.

In response to these proposals, 29 unions have decided to organize a massive strike, with an estimated number of up to 2 million workers walking out. The strike is set to be the biggest since the General Strike back in 1926 and the financial bill is feared to be more than £500 million in output. According to Paul Kenny, general secretary of the trade union GMB, the strikes “would continue into 2012 in the bitter dispute over pensions” and that it would be a “fantasy to think [this upcoming strike] would be a one-off”.

With teachers, nurses, paramedics, and a wide range of civil servants all walking out of their offices, Britain is on the way to witnessing a disastrous paralysis next Wednesday.


Jennifer Zhang

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