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in London, transport paralyzed by strikes

The walkouts continue in the United Kingdom, Friday, in transport, post and ports to protest against the drop in purchasing power. In London, traffic is severely disrupted.

The social unrest continues in the United Kingdom. After a series of walkouts among railway, postal and dockworkers on Thursday, London’s public transport network is virtually paralyzed on Friday August 19 and will remain very disrupted throughout the weekend due to a call for a strike over wages. and working conditions. This movement, the largest in decades, has continued since the beginning of the summer in reaction to galloping inflation which is devouring the purchasing power of the British.

“There is virtually no service” in the London Underground, although “two lines offer reduced traffic” with a train every 15 minutes or so, a spokeswoman for the operator told AFP. TfL public transport. Bus traffic, overloaded due to the withdrawal of many Londoners on this mode of transport, is also disrupted.

People gathered outside Blackhorse Road station in north-east London waiting for the opening of the Overground, a commuter train network that operates on reduced service on Friday. “Overground only, no metro today,” shouts a non-striking employee to the attention of travelers, many of whom are unaware of the strike.

New train strike on Saturday

A new day of strike is planned in the trains on Saturday. Throughout the country, the watchword is the same: employees are demanding increases in their pay in line with inflation, which reached 10.1% in July over one year and could exceed 13% in October.

Prices are notably driven by gas prices, on which the country is very dependent and which are soaring due to the war in Ukraine, but also by disruptions in supply chains and shortages of workers in the wake of Covid-19. and Brexit.

Negotiations with the multitude of private rail operators in the sector are deadlocked, according to the unions. The latter also rejected an offer of an 8% wage increase over two years from Network Rail, a public company managing railway lines, which they accuse of being conditional on massive layoffs.

Transport Minister Grant Shapps, accused by the unions of blocking the situation, for his part criticizes the unions for refusing reforms to modernize rail. He could go through in force, he assured Sky News on Friday. “If we cannot implement these modernizations, we will have to impose (them),” he said.

On Sunday, dockers at the port of Felixstowe (east of England) – the largest for freight in the country – will in turn start an eight-day strike, threatening to halt much of the traffic of goods from the country. Postal workers, employees of the telecom operator BT, Amazon handlers, but also criminal lawyers or garbage collectors have also walked out or plan to do so. The movements could last beyond the summer, and spread to education or even health officials.

With AFP and Reuters