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Europe News

Wage strikes disrupt Christmas trips to UK and France

Air travelers could face possible delays at UK airports after government workers who check passports went on strike on Friday – the latest in a series of walkouts over pay, amid a cost of living crisis.

France has braced for a similar disruption to Christmas travel as a weekend rail strike begins to bite.

The strike by border force personnel was to continue until the end of the year, with the exception of next Tuesday.

Hundreds of thousands of passengers could be affected, although the UK government has said it will prepare military personnel and other public service workers to help out at airports.

The strikes are putting pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government, which is refusing demands from public sector workers for substantial wage increases.

Inflation stood at 10.7% in November, driven by higher food and energy prices following the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine .

Sunak said he regretted the walkout and advised people to check their travel plans before leaving.

“I’m really sad and disappointed at the disruption that is being caused to so many people’s lives, especially over Christmas,” he said during a visit to a homeless shelter in London.

He insisted that his government had acted “in a fair and reasonable manner” in public sector wage negotiations.

Thousands of National Health Service nurses walked off the job on Tuesday in their second 24-hour strike this month. Ambulance drivers, paramedics and dispatchers also went on strike earlier this week and are planning another walkout next Wednesday.

Mail deliveries, highway maintenance and driving tests are also disrupted by strikes.

Further travel difficulties loomed on Saturday, Christmas Eve, when most train services were set to be cancelled.

Labor unrest is expected to continue into the new year when more strikes are scheduled.

France faces similar problems.

About half of French train conductors go on strike for the Christmas weekend. A third of regular rail services were canceled on Friday and 40% of trains were canceled for Saturday and Sunday, according to SNCF.

Conductors demand higher salaries and more staff. It is among several strikes in France resulting from the rising cost of living in recent months.

For more, watch the Euronews report in the video above.

euronews Gt

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