More working days were lost to strikes in the UK in 2022 than in any other year.
Almost 500,000 nurses, midwives, and healthcare assistants are represented by the Royal College.
The government is introducing legislation that will make it more difficult for important workers to strike.
More working days were lost to strikes in the UK in 2022 than in any other year since 1989 as workers protested salaries amid rising living expenses.
The number of working days lost to industrial action between June and December was approximately 2.5 million, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the largest number since 4.1 million days were lost in 1989.
The ONS said that 843,000 working days were lost in just December 2022, the most since November 2011.
Prior to Christmas, workers in the health care, communications, and transportation sectors all went on strike. Almost 500,000 nurses, midwives, and healthcare assistants are represented by the Royal College of Nursing, which went on strike for the first time ever in December.
Strike activity has continued into the New Year, interrupting public transportation and schools. On February 1, up to 500,000 employees—including teachers—participated in the largest single day of walkouts in more than a decade.
As they struggle with a problem in the cost of living and as inflation approaches its greatest level in four decades, workers are seeking higher salaries. For the current fiscal year, many public sector employees have received increase offers of 4% or 5%, which is significantly less than the 10.5% annual inflation rate in December. On Wednesday, the ONS will release the January inflation data.
Real pay declines
The UK government has thus far refrained from increasing pay awards for public sector employees, claiming that doing so runs the danger of exacerbating the inflation issue. Instead, the government is introducing legislation that will make it more difficult for important workers to strike.
The ONS reported on Tuesday that between October and December 2022 and between the same period in 2021, average regular pay growth decreased by 2.5% after accounting for inflation. It’s one of the biggest declines since records have been kept in 2001.
Since public sector wages rose much slower than private sector earnings without accounting for inflation, the decline in real compensation for these employees was worse. In the final three months of 2018 compared to the same period in 2021, the average regular pay rise for the public sector was 4.2%, while it was 7.3% for the private sector.
According to the ONS, salary growth in the private sector was strongest outside of the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS, stated in a statement that “while there is still a significant difference between wages growth in the public and private sectors, this decreased marginally in the recent period.” “Overall, though, salary continues to lag behind rising prices.”
According to a different poll conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) and released on Monday, UK companies anticipate raising employees’ median pay by 5% this year, the largest increase in pay in the previous 11 years.
However, the median projected public sector pay rise expectations of 2% trail behind those in the private sector at 5%. This discrepancy, according to the CIPD, “provides the background for persistent discontent and strikes among critical public sector workers.”
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