Teachers in the UK joined other workers as they went on strike on Wednesday due to rapidly rising inflation in the country. The UK has been battling with rising inflation rates and constantly declining GDP which has significantly increased the cost of living for people in the country. Amid all this, people are still receiving the same pay, which has made it difficult for a significant part of the population to deal with inflation. The public sector is affected the most by this inflation and increased cost of living. Because of this, the nursing staff and ambulance workers went on strike last month, demanding higher pay to survive during such tough times. This included nurses and ambulance workers from England and Wales. Now other workers including university staff, train drivers, bus drivers, and civil servants went on strike on Wednesday seeking higher pay to enable their survival during inflation. This strike also includes teachers because of this, many schools in the country have closed their doors to students. Strike from public transport workers has also created problems for the working population which uses public transport for travel.
Because of teachers and university staff joining the strike, a significant number of state-operated schools have been affected. According to the estimates provided by the UK Department for Education, around 43% of schools in the UK had restricted their attendance while 9% of schools were completely closed on Wednesday, February 1st. However, around 44% of schools were operating normally. Gillian Keegan, the Secretary of State for Education, expressed her gratitude towards the teachers who did not take part in the strike and kept the schools open and functioning normally. She said that the conversations regarding pay, workload, recruitment, retention, and other related issues are ongoing with the unions. In the UK, the teachers do not have any legal implications to let their higher-ups know about whether they are planning to attend a school or not. Gillian Keegan was fairly surprised to learn this as it increased the impact of teachers leaving for the strike on schools. She called such behavior unreasonable as this meant that the officials had no time to address the vacant places left by teachers on strike.
According to the statements made by Gillian Keegan, it seems as though the strike by teachers is receiving serious attention as it has created a significant impact on the education system. Based on her reaction to the fact that teachers have no liability of addressing their absence to the higher-ups, this is expected to get addressed as well, with legal implications being introduced in place. This will reduce the negative impact of future strikes from teachers. It is much more likely that such legal implications will get introduced soon to allow the authorities to be ready with contingency plans if a similar strike occurs in the future. Nick Gibb, the Minister of State for Schools, expressed similar thoughts as he said the UK government is taking the conversations surrounding the profession extremely seriously. It will be interesting to see how this strike progresses in the future and what measures the UK government takes regarding it. This is especially when the IMF has forecasted that the UK economy will shrink in 2023.