British rail workers kicked off the new year with a week-long strike on Tuesday, disrupting the return to work for millions of commuters in the latest bout of industrial action to hit the country.
Britain is in the grip of its worst run of worker unrest since Margaret Thatcher was in power in the 1980s, as surging inflation follows more than 10 years of stagnant wage growth, leaving many workers unable to make ends meet.
Repeated rail strikes have crippled the network in recent months while nurses, airport staff, paramedics and postal workers have also joined the fray, demanding higher pay to keep pace with inflation that is hovering around 40-year highs, reaching 10.7% in November.
Network Rail said “Due to industrial action, there will be significantly reduced train services across the railway until Sunday, January 8”.
“Trains will be busier and likely to start later and finish earlier, and there will be no services at all in some places.”
The government has said it cannot afford to give public sector workers an inflation-matching rise, meaning there is no end in sight to what has been dubbed a new “winter of discontent” in reference to the industrial battles that gripped Britain in the late 1970s.
The government has also called on union bosses to return to the negotiating table, aware that the strikes are taking a heavy toll on businesses that rely on commuters, such as coffee shops and pubs in town centres.
Writing by Tersoo Nicholas