Recent unrest amongst various public-sector industries in the U.K. has ballooned amid rising inflation and stagnating wages. The ongoing U.K. strikes appear to be a result of these issues, and to an extent, present a picture of the situations abroad and the need for aid.
Record Strike Action in Over 30 Years
Strikes seem to have almost become part of normal life in the U.K., with sectors engaging in industrial action ranging from public transportation to education, post services and health care. February’s strike of ambulance staff, nurses and physiotherapists marked the National Health Service’s most dramatic strike since its beginning 75 years ago. Yet, there is still no lasting solution in sight. Insufficient pay is the biggest reason for those taking part in strikes, as public-sector wages have not kept up with record-high inflation, which makes disposable income much tighter for those who work for government-controlled entities.
A Global Crisis
The ongoing cost of living crisis in the U.K., including sharp increases in the price of energy bills and food now at a 45-year high, is causing a lot of unrest within the country, but these problems are not unique to the developed world. If communities in one of the world’s wealthiest countries are struggling, it points to the harshness of the situation for those in low-and-middle-income countries. Inflation has been surging abroad also and is more likely to have devastating effects on communities that were struggling to attain basic life necessities before the price hikes. The U.N. estimated in the summer of 2022 that the increase in costs of food and energy will plunge an additional 71 million people into poverty, with forecasts suggesting that Sub-Saharan Africa and the Balkans could be two of the worst-affected regions.
The Bleak Situation Abroad
In 2022, strikes in developing countries’ health sectors were also widespread, including in Zimbabwe, where the government passed a controversial bill limiting workers’ ability to strike in 2023. Poor pay and working conditions were the underlying reasons for the strikes, with similar situations in Asian countries such as Sri Lanka where poverty levels continue to increase.
Why Maintaining Aid Is Essential
Delivering aid helps reduce political insecurity and the chance of conflict, which benefits all countries. Improving health standards abroad is also crucial for preventing the rise of global epidemics, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. There is also the potential for new markets to open in countries assisted by aid in the future. This is another economic opportunity for developed countries like the U.K. Finally, there is the opportunity to gain more soft power, or global political influence, through the maintenance of foreign aid. Improving existing friendships and partnerships can potentially result in positive outcomes for the countries involved. And developed countries working with less-developed nations in economically challenging times could be crucial for geo-political relations.
In the face of ongoing strikes and rising living costs, the need for aid becomes evident not only within the U.K. but also in low-and-middle-income countries facing similar challenges. Reports suggest that providing foreign aid is essential for reducing political insecurity, preventing global epidemics and fostering economic opportunities for both developed and developing nations. It also presents an opportunity to strengthen global partnerships and promote positive geo-political relations in economically challenging times.
– Hannah Naylor