LONDON (AP) – Most schools in Scotland were closed yesterday as thousands of teachers walked off the job, joining scores of postal workers and university lecturers in industrial action to demand better pay and working conditions to cope with the country’s cost-of-living crisis.
The teachers’ strike in Scotland, which shuttered every school on the Scottish mainland, was the first such one in the region in 40 years. Union members want a 10-per-cent pay rise, but Scottish authorities said they couldn’t afford that.
Elsewhere across the United Kingdom (UK), picket lines were set up outside postal offices and universities in one of the biggest coordinated walkouts this year.
In universities, some 70,000 academic staff were striking yesterday and again on November 30 in the biggest action of its kind in higher education. The action will affect an estimated 2.5 million students. The University and College Union said lecturers and other academic staff have suffered a decade of below-inflation pay rises, with a three-per-cent increase announced in the summer.
Meanwhile, workers at the Royal Mail will walk out for 48 hours yesterday and again on Black Friday and Christmas Eve over a long-running pay dispute.
Britons have faced days of travel misery and overflowing garbage bins in recent months as unions representing multiple industries launched successive strikes.
Lawyers, nurses, postal workers and many others have walked off the job to seek pay rises that match soaring inflation. Domestic energy bills and food costs have skyrocketed this year, driving inflation to a 41-year high of 11.1 per cent in October.
The latest walkouts come after the Rail, Maritime and Transport union announced on Tuesday that more than 40,000 rail workers will stage fresh strikes in December and January, disrupting travel for scores of people during the busy festive season.
The union said members will walk out for four days from December 13 and in the first week of January.