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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Budget Day Marred by Massive Strikes Across UK

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As Chancellor Jeremy Hunt delivered his first Budget on Wednesday, more than 400,000 workers across the UK staged walkouts and protests over pay, pensions and working conditions.

Teachers, civil servants, junior doctors, university staff and London underground drivers were among those who took part in the coordinated strike action that disrupted public services and transport.

Tens of thousands of striking workers marched through central London to Trafalgar Square for a rally that union leaders said was attended by at least 40,000 people.

They waved placards with slogans such as “Pay up”, “Enough is enough” and “Stop the cuts”. They also chanted “Shame on you” and booed when Hunt’s name was mentioned.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), which represents civil servants and other public sector workers, said it was demanding a 10% pay rise for its members who have suffered years of pay freezes and caps under austerity measures.

The National Education Union (NEU), which represents teachers and school staff, said it was striking over low pay, excessive workload and lack of funding for education.

The British Medical Association (BMA), which represents junior doctors, said it was striking over a new contract that would cut their pay and worsen their working conditions.

The University and College Union (UCU), which represents university staff, said it was striking over pensions, pay inequality and casualization of contracts.

The Rail Maritime Transport Union (RMT), which represents London underground drivers, said it was striking over pensions, job cuts and attacks on working conditions.

The unions accused the government of ignoring their grievances and failing to engage in meaningful negotiations. They also criticized Hunt’s Budget as favoring big businesses and wealthy individuals over ordinary workers.

Hunt defended his Budget as a balanced plan that would boost growth, create jobs and support public services. He said he had increased funding for health care, education and social care. He also announced tax cuts for low-earners and small businesses.

He urged the unions to call off their strikes and return to talks. He said he respected their right to protest but condemned their action as irresponsible and damaging to the economy and public confidence.

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