Thousands of schools in the U.K. closed some or all of their classrooms, train services were paralyzed and delays were expected at airports on the biggest day of industrial action Britain has seen in more than a decade, as unions stepped up pressure on the government Wednesday to provide better pay amid a cost-of-living crisis.
The Trades Union Congress, a federation of unions, estimated that up to a half-million workers, including teachers, university staff, civil servants, border officials and train drivers, went on strike across the country.
More walkouts, including by nurses and ambulance workers, are planned for the coming days and weeks.
Months of strikes have disrupted the daily routines of Britons as a bitter dispute between unions and the government over pay and working conditions drags on. The simultaneous strikes across multiple industries on Wednesday marked an escalation of the unions’ protest actions.
The last time the country saw mass walkouts on this scale was in 2011, when well over 1 million public sector workers staged a one-day strike in a dispute over pensions. Others on strike Wednesday ranged from museum workers and London bus drivers to coast guard personnel and officers who staff passport booths at airports. The British Museum was closed Wednesday because of the strikes.