Over five hundred thousand workers went on strike Wednesday in England. According to the BBC more than half of schools in England either restricted attendance or closed during teacher strikes on Wednesday. Teachers in England and Wales were among thousands of workers taking action during what was said to be the biggest strike day for a decade.
University staff, train drivers, bus drivers and civil servants separately walked out.
Most were taking action over pay not keeping pace with inflation.
Wednesday was the first of seven national and regional National Education Union strikes dates.
Teachers have already been on a national strike in Scotland and action is continuing on a rolling basis. Most teachers in Northern Ireland will walk out for half a day on 21 February.
So far the government has declined to take actions to alleviate the situation, instead opting for administrative or legislative efforts to curb the right to strike.
In France one and a quarter million people were out on Thursday, according to the French police. When the French government announced that they would raise the retirement age from 62 to 64, all French unions announced they would oppose it by all means possible. They have been good to their word. According to CNN Paris was paralyzed on Thursday.
But for the first time since the 1990s the strikes spread throughout France. On Thursday speaking with this reporter, French sources said the strikes were in every city in France- large and small and for the first time in decades there were more private sector workers out than public sector workers. In other words the strikes are geographically and socially more widespread and more inclusive.
Thursday’s strike is the first in a planned series-unless the government withdraws its so-called pension reform proposals.
Frank Lopes Costa, a 35-year-old primary school teacher, was one of the demonstrators.
“This is not only about pensions. The plans are putting a question mark over the very heart of our social system,” he told DW a German news service. “Times are already incredibly difficult, also because of rising prices. The reform comes on top of all that. Our society is becoming increasingly market-orientated, but we don’t want that.”
The demonstrators aren’t alone. Polls show that 70% of the French are opposed to the plans — and counting.
This report from the DW news service.
Report by Frank Emspak. Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash. Web production by Anyu Li.