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Thousands of UK bus drivers plan strikes as cost-of-living crisis deepens

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Parked busses are seen at an Arriva bus stop in Harlow, Britain.

Thousands of bus drivers in London and Kent county plan to go on strike over pay and working conditions amid a worsening cost-of-living crisis across Britain. 

The Unite union said on Wednesday that about 600 Arriva bus drivers based in Kent in southeastern England plan to walk out on September 30. Over 2,000 drivers employed by the same company will strike from October 4.

Unite said the strike by the London bus drivers would run continuously until the dispute was resolved.

"Fresh bus strikes will inevitably cause further turmoil for passengers throughout Kent but this dispute is entirely of Arriva's own making," Unite regional officer Janet Nobbs said in a statement.

Steve Stockwell, another regional officer from Unite, accused the company of failing to address the grievances of its staff and workers. "Arriva has totally failed to address the strength of feeling among our members as they see their rates of pay eroded. The company needs to return to the negotiating table with an offer which meets workers' reasonable expectations."

The protest action in early October could threaten further disruption of a transport system already facing walkouts by railway workers from several rail operators across the country.

In recent days, a number of unions have set out new dates for strikes that were postponed following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8.

The UK cost-of-living crisis has prompted workers from railways and airlines to barristers and even trade union staff to either threaten or undertake strike action.

These are uncertain times for millions of Brits. A sharp spike in the cost of living, combined with stagnant pay rates, mean many are counting the pennies – and being forced into making stark choices.

Authorities recently announced a whopping 80-percent hike in electricity and gas bills, bearing testimony to the worsening crisis just before winter sets.

They warned of yet another likely increase in January, reflecting significant pricing pressure in energy markets. They blamed turbulence in the energy market and soaring gas costs in the UK on the simmering conflict in Ukraine.

Household and business consumers, energy suppliers, and opposition politicians are clamoring for urgent government action to do more to avoid putting the most vulnerable people in desperate situations.

Charities say the families have faced one of the "bleakest Christmases" for years, with inflation already in double digits and expected to strike 13 percent in the coming months due to runaway energy bills.

Britain’s anti-poverty experts say the near-doubling in the cap will likely tip millions into fuel poverty, forcing them to choose between heating or eating.

Britain is already suffering from its highest inflation rate since 1982 and is predicted to enter a recession later this year.


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