Warning of ‘unsustainable’ hit comes as number of working days lost to strikes hits 30-year high
Rishi Sunak’s government has been warned about the crippling impact of ongoing industrial unrest across Britain, as new analysis shows recent strikes have caused a £6bn hit to the UK economy.
The damage is not limited to the economy, with schools set for huge disruption and NHS patients facing more delays after unions announced nursing and teaching strikes for February and March.
The government is also facing industrial action – or the threat of more walkouts – from ambulance staff, train drivers, postal workers, firefighters, Border Force officials, Job Centre staff and other civil servants.
Unions bosses have also told The Independent about the push for more “coordinated” action in the weeks ahead – warning that they will not back down in increasingly bitter disputes with ministers on pay and conditions.
The economic cost of the industrial unrest seen since the summer amounts to at least £6.6bn, according to The Independent’s analysis of estimates by industry chiefs and economists.
The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) puts the direct hit to businesses’ output from lost working days at £1.4bn in the eight months to January.
In additional knock-on impacts, the rail strikes have cost bars, pubs, restaurants and hotels at least £2.5bn in lost trade since the summer, according to UKHospitality. Network Rail said the strikes had also cost £400m in lost ticket revenue.
The Centre for Retail Research also estimated that the cost of rail and postal strikes to UK retailers will be just over £2.3bn for the Christmas period and January sales.
“We are teetering on the edge of recession and any sort of downward pressure from strikes has an unwelcome impact on the economy,” said CEBR economist Karl Thompson.