Tuesday, November 29, 2011

UK strike: Just the beginning?

Tomorrow's general strike in the UK could be just the beginning of a wave of disruptions, union leaders warned today. They say millions of people will walk off the job to protest working longer for less money and a crappier retirement.

According to the Associated Press,
The unions claim as many as two million border agency workers, teachers, garbage collectors, firefighters and other public sector staff will join the 24-hour strike which begins shortly after midnight, plunging air travel and many basic services into disarray.
Many strikers will also be motivated by Britain's painful austerity measures, which on Tuesday saw the government extend a limit on public sector pay rises through 2014.
Airport operator BAA, which runs London's Heathrow airport, has warned that passengers could face 12-hour delays as immigration staff leave their posts. Education officials say nine out of 10 schools will close.
"For most people, the size of this strike will be unprecedented in their lifetime," said John Kelly, a professor of industrial relations at the Birkbeck University of London.
Kelly said that if around 1.5 million to 2 million workers join the strike it would be the largest one-day walkout since the early 1970s. If the numbers exceed that, it could match Britain's 1926 General Strike, he said.
Teamsters will be marching in solidarity with their brothers and sisters overseas. At noon tomorrow, they'll head toward the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. Led by the National Nurses Union, there will also be solidarity rallies at British consulates in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Orlando and San Francisco.

Here's what the nurses have to say:
The actions come amidst huge corporate cash reserves on both sides of the Atlantic while government officials in both nations push reductions in retirement security and other cuts. In the U.K., some 30 unions representing nurses, teachers, paramedics, civil servants, and other public workers will protest plans by the conservative government to cut public pensions. In the U.S., support rallies will also remind the public of threats to Social Security as well.
U.S. rally locations, all actions at 12 noon local time:Washington, D.C. – Embassy of the United Kingdom, 3100 Massachusetts Ave. NW Boston – Consulate, One Broadway, Cambridge Chicago – Consulate, 625 N. Michigan Ave. Los Angeles – Consulate, 11766 Wilshire Blvd. Orlando – Consulate, 200 South Orange Ave. San Francisco – Consulate, One Sansome St.