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Wage strikes disrupt Christmas travel to UK and France

origin 1France’s SNCF has now cut more than a third of trains scheduled for the Christmas weekend. ©Laurent Cipriani/Copyright 2022 AP. All rights reserved.

Air travelers could face possible delays at UK airports after government employees who check passports went on strike on Friday – the latest in a series of strikes over pay, amid a cost-of-living crisis.

France has been bracing for similar Christmas travel disruptions as a weekend train strike takes its toll.

The Border Force personnel strike was to continue until the end of the year, with the exception of next Tuesday.

Hundreds of thousands of passengers could be affected, although the British government said it would train military personnel and other public service workers to help out at airports.

The strikes are putting pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government, which is rejecting calls by public sector workers for substantial wage increases.

Inflation stood at 10.7% in November, driven by rising food and energy prices following the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Sunak said he regretted the strike and advised people to check their travel plans before leaving.

“I’m really sad and disappointed at the upheaval it’s causing so many people’s lives, particularly around Christmas,” she said during a visit to a homeless shelter in London.

He insisted that his government acted “fairly and reasonably” in public sector wage negotiations.

Thousands of NHS nurses walked off the job on Tuesday in their second 24-hour strike this month. Ambulance drivers, paramedics and dispatchers also went on strike earlier this week and plan another strike next Wednesday.

Postal deliveries, highway maintenance and driving tests were also disrupted by the strikes.

Further travel difficulties loomed on Saturday, Christmas Eve, when most train services were expected to be cancelled.

Union unrest will continue into the new year, when more strikes are expected.

France faces similar problems.

Around half of French train drivers go on strike for the Christmas weekend. A third of scheduled rail services were canceled on Friday and 40% of trains were canceled on Saturday and Sunday, according to national railway authority SNCF.

The conductors are demanding higher pay and more staff. It is among several strikes in France resulting from the rising cost of living in recent months.

To find out more, watch the RockedBuzz via Euronews report in the video above.