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Britain’s strike wave escalates as millions push for action

Britain is experiencing a wave of strikes on a scale unseen for decades.

More than 40,000 rail workers represented by the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) and Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) will continue national rail strikes on Thursday and Saturday. Around 10,000 RMT members on the London Underground and Overground will strike Friday, alongside 1,600 London United bus workers beginning two days of action.

In an action that will massively impact on the UK economy, 1,900 workers at the UK’s Felixstowe port, responsible for half of all container freight, will begin eight days of strike action on Sunday. Over 500 workers have also voted to strike at the Port of Liverpool, Britain’s fourth largest.

Close to 115,000 Royal Mail workers in the Communication Workers Union will strike on August 26 and 31 and September 8 and 9. Another 50,000 BT telecoms workers in the same union will strike August 30 and 31. Post Office workers will join on August 26, 27 and 30.

In a powerful confirmation of the angry and determined mood among workers, wildcat walkouts involving thousands have taken place at Amazon and are continuing fortnightly at subcontractors across the UK’s vital energy infrastructure.

These strikes take place as workers across Europe and internationally are also taking significant industrial action. One-day general strikes have been held in Italy, Greece and Belgium. A wave of strikes has swept across Turkey, and major actions have been taken against some of Europe’s biggest airlines, including a planned five months of strikes at Ryanair in Spain.

Workers are being driven into struggle by a catastrophic collapse in living standards comparable only to the Great Depression of the 1930s. Wages in the UK, flatlining for over a decade, have fallen by a staggering 7 percent versus RPI inflation over the year to April-June, at the fastest rate on record. Two-thirds of households face a winter of fuel poverty, with average bills set to rise to £4,426 a year by next April. Millions are unable to even properly feed their families.

The growing mass movement brings the working class into a direct confrontation with trade unions working desperately to contain and sabotage their struggle and a Conservative government seeking to impose the full weight of the crisis on workers and their families by any means necessary, with the active collusion of the opposition Labour Party.

Over 200,000 workers are out on strike this month, but this would be closer to 3 million if the biggest battalions of the working class were not being deliberately demobilised by the trade union bureaucracy.

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