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DESTRUCTIVE INFLATION

Countries around the world are being hit by decades-high inflation as the Ukraine war and the easing of COVID-19 restrictions fuel energy and food price hikes.

Unions warn also that railway jobs are at risk, with passenger traffic yet to fully recover after the lifting of pandemic lockdowns.

Britain’s economy initially rebounded strongly from the pandemic, but a combination of labour shortages, supply chain disruption, inflation and post-Brexit trade problems has prompted warnings of a recession.

The government says it is giving extra support to millions of the poorest households but says that above-inflation pay rises would damage the fundamentals of the economy.

“Sustained higher levels of inflation would have a far bigger impact on people’s pay packets in the long run, destroying savings and extending the difficulties we’re facing for longer,” Johnson said.

The outbreak of industrial action has drawn comparison with the 1970s, when Britain faced widespread labour strikes including the 1978 to 1979 “winter of discontent”.

The strikes come as travellers at British airports experience chaotic delays and last-minute cancellations due to staff shortages while many Britons have to wait months for new passports to arrive due to processing delays.

Thousands of workers were sacked in the aviation industry during the pandemic, but the sector is now struggling to recruit workers as travel demand rebounds following the lifting of lockdowns.

Other areas of the public sector are meanwhile set to hold strikes.

The Criminal Bar Association, representing senior lawyers in England and Wales, have voted to strike from next week in a row over legal aid funding.

Justice minister James Cartlidge called the walk-out “disappointing” given that the court system is already battling significant backlogs in cases caused by the pandemic.

Four weeks of action begin on Monday and Tuesday, increasing by one day each week until a five-day strike from July 18.

Teaching staff and workers in the state-run National Health Service are reportedly also mulling strike action.

And several other transport unions are balloting members over possible stoppages that could occur in the coming weeks.