The British ambulance workers’ General, Municipal, Boilermakers’ and Allied Trade Union (GMB) will strike today.
Throughout December and January, various British labour unions staged strikes to demand higher wages. The British government has rejected any pay increases due to inflation concerns. The strikes significantly reduce the capabilities of the country`s healthcare system and puts the credibility of the incumbent Conservative government in jeopardy. Additionally, the United Kingdom is currently one of the worst performing developed economies—the only G7 country that did not surpass its pre-COVID-19 GDP in 2022, prompting further concern from Rishi Sunak’s government.
The British government is responding to the demonstrations with minimum service legislation which enables employers to sue unions if a minimum level of service is not met as a result of a strike. This legislation might reduce the bargaining power of unions but is unlikely to lead to end industrial action by the GMB and other unions.
A possible solution in the medium-term might be small pay increases for public sector workers to limit inflation increases while providing relief. This solution would likely be a lose-lose situation, however, whereby government debt increases and the relief provided does little to alleviate cost of living pressures.
Cian is a Research Analyst and contributes to both Analysis and the Daily Brief. He specializes in Australian and European geopolitics with a particular interest in the strategic autonomy of the EU.