When was the last general strike in the UK?
Why did millions of workers join the general strike this winter in the UK?
What is the extent of the general strike this winter in the UK?
What has the UK government decided to manage the general strike this winter?
Ambulance workers, railway workers, bus drivers and mail carriers have voted in favor of the strike, and teachers and civil servants are waiting for the results in this field.
The last general strike in the UK
Most of the dates set for the strike are in December 2022, with the peak two weeks before Christmas. The last general strike in the UK was in 1926, when 1.5 million private sector workers walked off the job. Trade unions have had their freedom to take such action restricted by Parliament over the last century. Still, some union leaders say they are coordinating measures for maximum impact, and nearly 100 years after the last general strike, 1.5 million workers could be on the streets again by Christmas.
Joining millions of workers in a general strike
The Trades Union Congress (TUC), in which most British unions are present, was once able to coordinate a strike among its less powerful unions without needing a vote. There was the potential for millions of workers to walk off the job and join the strike in support of action at TUC headquarters to confront the government.
General strike after a hundred years
The general strike happened only once in the UK, on May 3rd, 1926, and lasted nine days. About 1.5 million people attended, and such an event is expected to be repeated in the December 2022 strike. After the ravages of World War I and the loss of decades of investment, Strikes severely weakened many industrial prospects for machinery and technology. Following these events, employers began to cut wages. At that time, there were 17 million workers in the private sector and only 1.5 million in the public sector, while today, there are 27 million and 5.7 million workers in these sectors, respectively.
The spread of general strikes in the UK
The TUC decided to limit participation in the strike to railway and transport workers, printers and dock workers, and iron and steel workers, representing other industries that had also undergone an economic transformation. Trade union laws were introduced after the Great British General Strike, and in the 1980s, these laws limited these disputes to successful workplace ballots.
The process of holding nationwide strikes in the UK
A union can coordinate industrial action by workers, as in the University College Union, on certain days for all colleges that have voted to strike. Still, strikers are barred from attending each other’s demonstrations, known as secondary rallies. Will be The Trade Union and Employment Relations Act 1992 sets out the legal requirements before taking industrial action in England, Scotland and Wales. There are separate rules in Northern Ireland.
How the general strikes in the UK
In England, Scotland and Wales, voting for industrial action must be attended by at least 50% of voters and a majority must vote in favor of the action is legal. Therefore, if 100 workers are eligible to vote and only 49 vote, the workers cannot take that action even if 49 vote in favor.
Conditions for participation in general strikes
These laws were amended in 2016 by the then PM David Cameron’s government to cover participation in public services in England and Scotland. This means that public sector workers in these areas whose role includes providing “important public services” must have a 40% support threshold among all workers eligible to vote, as well as a 50% participation threshold for the action to be legal. If 100 essential government sector workers are eligible to vote, at least 50 people must fill out the ballot, and at least 40 must vote yes. Also, union membership records must be up-to-date, and the economic unit of business activity defined, which helps employers with subsidiaries limit any action’s scope.
Deployment of army forces to manage general strikes
The general strike this winter has worried the UK government. The leader of the Conservative Party of the UK said that the London government is considering deploying military forces to manage the consequences and disruptions caused by nationwide strikes this winter during the Christmas holidays. Nadhim Zahawi, head of Britain’s ruling Conservative Party, said in an interview with Sky News that based on the plans proposed by the London government, the personnel of the British Army may be employed in this direction for such things as driving an ambulance and working at the borders.
Efforts to reduce the level of disruption
The general strike this winter will cause a lot of damage to the British economy. The head of the British Conservative Party also talked about the possibility of pharmacists being called to help break the strike of the National Health Service employees of this country and said: “we have to be able to deliver safe levels of treatment and support to patients.” He added: “We’ve got to try and minimise disruption.”
Concerns about unrest at Christmas
The UK government recently announced that military personnel, civil servants and volunteer forces had been trained to work in some sectors, including the Border Guard and at airports and ports, following concerns about Christmas unrest. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office also announced in a statement that a decision has not yet been made to recruit army soldiers. Still, military personnel are among the available options if the strike in these areas goes as planned.
The effect of general strikes on different parts of the country
According to Sky News, the UK government is facing a wave of strikes in the coming winter, which will probably cause consequences and disruptions for the transport sector, the National Health Service, education and couriers. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people are expected to participate in these strikes simultaneously as the UK is involved in the economic recession and the cost of living crisis.
Precautionary plans to deal with strikes
Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News, “This is not a time to strike.” “Our message to the unions is to say, you know, this is not a time to strike. This is time to try and negotiate,” he noted. He added: “In the absence of that, it’s important for the government. It’s the right and responsible thing to have contingency plans in place.” British officials have previously deployed military personnel in other emergencies, including driving gasoline trucks and delivering Covid-19 vaccines during the pandemic.
Due to the sharp increase in energy and food prices, the average inflation in the UK has reached its highest level in the last 41 years. As the UK faces its worst cost-of-living crisis in generations, many staff and other workers, from the rail sector to lawyers, have gone on strike this year. The UK is bracing for more strikes after public, and private sector unions announced new action to protest the high cost of living and low wages.