UK's teachers and civil servants join mass strike

STORY: It's being called 'Walkout Wednesday'.

Half a million teachers, civil servants, train drivers, and other professions walked off their jobs over pay and conditions in the United Kingdom on Wednesday (February 1).

It's the largest such action to hit the country in a generation, and disrupted daily life for many others.

So severe, that nearly all rail travel in Britain stopped, schools were shuttered, and it's forced the military to be put on stand by to help with border checks.

Teachers are the biggest group, with about 300,000 expected to join.

Mary Bousted is General Secretary of National Education Union.

"None of the people behind me wants to be on strike today, but they are saying so very reluctantly that enough is enough and that things have to change.”

A view echoed by teacher Natasha De Stefano-Honey.

"Although I love teaching, it is just so hard, it is just so tiring. There aren’t enough of us doing all of the work that needs to be done."

With inflation running at more than 10% - the highest level in four decades - Britain has seen a wave of strikes in recent months across different sectors.

Strikers want pay increases above 10% so that they can also deal with the huge increase in food cost and energy bills.

Education minister Gillian Keegan stuck to the government's position on Wednesday.

It's taken a hard line with public sector workers, saying that giving in to demands for large wage increases will only fuel inflation.

So far the economy has not taken a major hit from the industrial action

But the walkouts have a political impact on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's government.

His Conservative Party trail the opposition Labour Party by some 25 percentage points in polls .

And surveys indicate the public think the government have handled the strikes badly.


"It's quite depressing, it's quite scary, doesn't really feel like anything is going to change. Don't know, it feels like the demise of the UK.''


"Kids want to do their exams and I think there's a huge amount of pressure on everybody.''


''I've got family that are sort of ambulance workers and nurses. I don't think it's about money, I think it's about a lack of funding more than anything. I think they're upset because people are just leaving."

Next week, nurses, ambulance staff, paramedics, emergency call handlers and other healthcare workers are set to stage more walkouts.