Britain is braced for a winter of strikes

Gaby Hinsliff

A wave of industrial action affecting everything from the Christmas post to new year getaways, with border officials at some of the country’s busiest airports due to walk out later this month, means everyday life is about to get more difficult for most of us, and actively frightening for some. But, to put it bluntly, that’s the point of strikes. They’re designed to make life miserable; to jolt us into realising how quickly life would fall apart if it wasn’t for whoever is withdrawing their labour, and thinking again about how much that labour is worth to us. Which makes it all the more interesting that half of the respondents to a YouGov poll this week backed paramedics and 999 call-handlers striking, despite the potentially frightening consequences, and 48% opposed government proposals to ban them from doing so.

That groundswell of support could, of course, change if (and God forbid) something tragic happens as a result of strike action. But for now, it seems there is still an awful lot of goodwill in the bank for NHS workers. We know they were there for us when it counted and we know, too, how agonising many will find it to leave patients in the lurch. If even they are at the end of their tether, something has gone very badly wrong….