Public services are being hit hard in England, Wales and Northern Ireland by a strike involving hundreds of thousands of local government workers.
Set to last two days, the industrial action over pay has forced schools to close. Rubbish collection, social care and public libraries have also been affected.
Recognising the impact of the industrial action, one striker interviewed in London said:
“Everyone is suffering but, at the end of the day, we still have to put food on our tables for our children and do everything else that everyone does. And with the lower wages we are on, you just can’t do it.”
Unions have rejected a below-inflation increase of 2.45 percent, saying it amounts to a pay cut.
Employers’ representatives maintain a bigger rise is not possible.
“The offer we have made is fair, realistic and right at the limit of our affordability,” said John Ransford of the Local Government Authority.
“If we did consider giving them more, there would be less services, less jobs and higher council tax.”
With inflation at its highest in over a decade, Britain’s Labour government is urging wage restraint to help contain prices. But unions are demanding a six per cent increase and say they will step up their action if they don’t get what they want.