In the UK, ‘Summer of Discontent’ is driving people to the streets

Anger finally erupted, Wednesday, 3 August, at Amazon’s warehouse in Tilbury, east London, when management announced the offer to staff: an extra 35 pence (41 euro cents) for essential workers, taking their salaries to £11.45. (13.55 euros) per hour. This represents a 3% increase, while UK inflation was 9.4% in June.

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This news caused a stir in the company’s canteen. Videos posted on social networks show executives trying to quell the surrounding anger. without result. A large part of the employees refused to return to their positions, which disrupted the operation of the warehouse for forty-eight hours. Tension spread and savage strikes briefly reached the Coventry and Bristol sites.

“People in such difficult financial situations … I see a lot of despair, Explains Steve Garlick, a representative of the GMB consortium, who is monitoring the situation at the site. So when they are offered 35 pence, they are, of course, angry. » He delivered a letter to the UK e-commerce giant’s headquarters calling for basic wages to be raised to £15 an hour. Amazon responds “Wage increases to a minimum of between £10.50 and £11.45 per hour, depending on location, which is a 29% increase since 2018”.

Saturday August 13 will be the fourth time since June 20 that the rail system has been disrupted

The Amazon case is a symptom of the widespread social discontent movement as never before across the channel. On Saturday 13 August, nine train companies – the bulk of British trains – will go on strike. This is the fourth time since June 20 that the rail system has been shut down, with two unions rotating. These have also occurred on buses, the London Underground, some universities and pubs, as well as on BT (formerly British Telecom).

Even lawyers have been demonstrating since the end of June, striking every two weeks, in order to get an increase in fees for cases referred to them. “It’s a summer of indignation”thinks Mr. Gharelik, a term that echoes the winter of discontent in 1979, when the country was paralyzed by factory work and the side of garbage collectors or gravediggers.

“Unions got to their knees”

It’s just the beginning. Postmen and port workers announced their strike in August. On Tuesday 9 August, the Royal College of Nursing, the Nurses’ Union, for the first time in its history in more than a century, recommended that its members stop working, as part of the movement due to take place in October. National Education also prepares social actions in the fall.

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