Nearly 200,000 workers go on Black Friday strike in UK – CNN | CarTailz

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The British cost of living crisis is already taking the shine off Black Friday. Now the annual shopping bonanza faces an added threat from strikes that could disrupt deliveries, dampen online sales and deal another blow to the slumping economy.

Around 235,000 workers went on strike in the UK this week, including schools, universities and the postal service. Workers are demanding better wages and working conditions as they grapple with rising food and energy bills.

Strike action by up to 115,000 Royal Mail workers on Thursday and Friday threatens to disrupt Black Friday sales and deliveries at a crucial time of year for retailers.

Small businesses in particular are “suffering tremendous damage” from the postal strikes as they “rely on an efficient postal service for much of their trade,” according to a statement posted on LinkedIn and signed by Murray Lambell, eBay (EBAY) UK General Manager , Martin McTague, Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, and Michelle Ovens, Founder of the Small Business Britain campaign group.

Postal workers are planning further strikes for November 30 and December 1 after strikes in August and September.

“Customers should expect delays for items published just before, during or just after strike action,” Royal Mail said in a statement.

Strikes have swept the UK this year as workers grapple with a deepening cost of living crisis and an economy sliding into recession. Wages have stagnated, failing to keep up with inflation, which is now at a 41-year high, setting the stage for disputes between employers and workers.

These clashes have already caused widespread disruption, including to train services, and are now spreading to even more sectors such as education and healthcare.

More than 70,000 university workers went on strike at 150 UK universities on Thursday and Friday over pay, working conditions and pensions.

The strike is the largest in the history of British higher education, affecting over 2.5 million students, according to the University and College Union, which organized the strike. Another strike is planned for November 30th.

In Scotland, every school on the mainland was closed on Thursday after up to 50,000 teachers walked out on the first day of nationwide strike action over pay for nearly 40 years, according to the Educational Institute of Scotland, a trade union.

Meanwhile, the Royal College of Nursing, which has more than 300,000 members, said on Friday nurses would go on strike for two days in December – the first in the union’s 106-year history – to get their demands for higher wages accepted support. Unison, a union representing nearly half a million healthcare workers, will complete its own strike election on Friday.

According to the Office for National Statistics, 356,000 days were lost to strikes in August, not far off the previous peak in July 2014 when 386,000 days were lost. That number dropped to 205,000 in September.

But the picture could deteriorate again before it gets better, with disruptions stretching beyond Black Friday well into the holiday season. Strike action will also add to the losses faced by companies and could result in further job losses.

RMT, Britain’s largest transport union, on Tuesday announced four 48-hour strikes in December and January after talks with Network Rail broke down. Network Rail’s chief negotiator, Tim Shoveller, said strikes are making the “precarious financial hole” the company finds itself bigger and “making the task of finding a solution increasingly difficult”.

Best Food Logistics drivers, who deliver fresh groceries to restaurants including KFC, Burger King and Pizza Hut, also voted to go on strike, according to a statement by the GMB Union on Thursday. No dates have been announced yet, and a company spokesman told CNN Business it was committed to “finding a way forward.”

The Communication Workers Union (CWU), which represents striking postal workers, has announced additional strikes on December 9, 11, 14, 15, 23 and 24 that could jeopardize Christmas deliveries. Royal Mail says it has not yet been officially informed of these dates.

Relations between the company and the union have soured after they failed to reach an agreement on pay and changes to working conditions after seven months of talks.

According to Royal Mail CEO Simon Thompson, the strikes have added £100m ($121.3m) to Royal Mail’s losses so far this year and could result in further job cuts on top of the 10,000 already announced.

“The CWU’s proposed strike action is holding Christmas as a ransom for our customers, businesses and families across the country and jeopardizing the jobs of its own members,” Thompson said in a statement.

Also on Friday, thousands of Amazon (AMZN) warehouse workers plan to take part in protests and strikes in some 30 countries, including the United States, Britain, Japan, India, Australia, France, Germany and South Africa, according to UNI Global Union.

This is the third year that the Make Amazon Pay campaign is organizing a global day of action on Black Friday. Protests due to take place between shifts at an Amazon warehouse in Coventry, England, on Friday night are not expected to affect Black Friday deliveries.

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