LONDON — The United Kingdom recorded the highest number of working days lost to labor disputes in October for more than ten years, official data showed on Tuesday, as employees went on strike to demand higher pay in the face of soaring inflation.
The Office for National Statistics said 417,000 working days were lost to strike action in October, the highest since November 2011 when just under a million days were lost due to public sector workers walking out in a row over pension reforms.
Workers across a range of sectors have gone on strike in recent months, from rail workers to teachers, postal staff to lawyers, as people struggle with a cost-of-living crisis and double digit inflation.
While some smaller, mostly private sector disputes have been resolved, the government has so far refused to budge on public sector pay and is instead looking to tighten laws to stop some strikes.
Strikes are due to take place nearly every day in December, with widespread disruption on the railways on Tuesday as rail workers begin their latest 48-hour walkout. Nurses are due to strike on Thursday for the first time in their union’s history.
Union estimates forecast more than 1 million working days will be lost in December, making it the worst month for disruption since July 1989.
The government has said the pay rises being demanded are unaffordable and warned hiking pay to match inflation will only worsen the problem.
“Any action that risks embedding high prices into our economy will only prolong the pain for everyone, and stunt any prospect of long-term economic growth,” finance minister Jeremy Hunt said on Tuesday. (Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Kate Holton)