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  • Rushmi Rosairo

Rising Inflation Instigates a Wave of Transport Strikes in Europe

Updated: Jul 2, 2022

Picture Credit: The Telegraph website

Living costs are rising and people’s wallets can’t keep up, wages seem to be dawdling. Europe is bracing for the impending labor unrest this summer. Although the issue is spread throughout many sectors, the transport sector seems to be experiencing the brunt of it. As Covid-19 restrictions come to an end, traveling has made a huge come-back, and the flagrantly understaffed airlines, airports and railways are struggling to keep up.

After laying off a significant number of employees during the pandemic, the sudden rapid increase in travel has put a strain on the transport sector; severely understaffed and overstretched, the work forces at airlines, airports and railways have finally had enough. Wave after wave of protests and worker’s strikes have begun, workers are demanding more. Though, as frustrating as cancellations of flights and delays at terminals can be, keep in mind that these strikes are for a good reason.

It seems the ‘post-pandemic recovery’ that everyone had been hoping for is being pushed out of reach by labor disputes and other economic issues. The job layoffs and resignations during the pandemic has left the transport sector with over 100,000 job vacancies to fill. Chaos has unfurled at airports in Amsterdam, London, Frankfurt and Paris, with queues of people waiting for flights that will most likely be cancelled. The European peak travel season is being greatly affected. The inflation in the eurozone reached its highest in decades in June (8.6%), caused by the loose money measures taken to keep the economy buoyant during the pandemic.

Picture Credit: website

Many have varying opinions on how the inflation reached its current point. Economists state that Russia’s war in Ukraine augmented the inflation. Both countries contribute greatly to the global supply chain, since Russia and Ukraine are two of the key agricultural regions.

The situation doesn’t seem to be resolving anytime soon either, with further disruptions being expected in the coming weeks. Unions are calling for a nationwide train strike across France on July 6th. Lufthansa increased the number of flights it will cancel within July and August to 3100 on Friday. Railways are also struggling; 21st June, a rail strike in Britain brought large parts of the network to a halt, reportedly being the largest in the country for the last 30 years, with thousands of rail workers demanding better pay and working conditions. Tube services were also halted due to another strike by the workers on London Underground.

Ryanair cabin crew members in Belgium, Portugal and Spain began a three-day strike on June 24th. This was followed by staff in France on 25th and Italy on the 26th. Spain is on another strike from June 30th to July 2nd. The airline stated that “less than 2%” of its flights in the Belgium territory were affected, furthermore; the airline insists that it offers competitive and fair working conditions for its employees, contrary to what striking workers say.

Ryanair’s long-time rival EasyJet is also bracing for nine days of strike; workers across Spain are prepared to strike during July, the Spanish trade union Sindical Obrera has announced a series of 24-hour strikes throughout the month. It will affect the airline’s operations across the country.

Picture Credit: Reuters website

The Brussels air strike was a significant strike; involving 70,000 workers, it was a monumental nationwide three-day strike from June 23rd-25th. Workers took to the capital’s streets in protest to the increasing living cost. Even the security staff at Brussels Airport (BRU) took a stand.

The situation has become so calamitous that the German government has decided to fast-track thousands of foreign workers (mainly from Turkey) in the weeks to come, in order to finally find a solution to the severe shortage of labor. It is difficult to determine what would happen next. These summer strikes would definitely thwart the recovery of the already receding economy.

July 1st 2022 | 4:00 PM

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