‘Ping’-demonium: Fears over Summer of Discontent


22-07-21 11:20:00, What was the 1979 Winter of Discontent? 

The Winter of Discontent – under the government of Labour’s Jim Callaghan – saw rubbish piled high in the streets and rats scurrying around Leicester Square as dustbin men and other public sector workers went on strike to support a pay rise demand.

Meanwhile, hospitals were left in chaos as cleaners and other ancillary staff joined the most widespread withdrawal of labour since the General Strike of 1926.  

Parts of the country had to go without an ambulance service for 24 hours as the army was drafted in to provide a skeleton service. Patients went untreated and even the dead were left unburied, as council grave-diggers took industrial action. 

Rubbish piled up near Soho Square Gardens, London, during the 1979 Winter of Discontent

The UK was today left fearing a Summer of Discontent as the NHS Covid app continued to ‘ping’ swathes of the country into isolation – while weary Britons complained of fuel and food shortages, bin collection cancellations, railways delays, and scores of school and business closures.

Around 1.7million people are thought to be currently isolating at home after being notified by the app or contacted by Test & Trace, with the problem set to get much worse as cases keep rising.

More than a million pupils were out of the classroom last week, according to new Department of Education data, with 81,000 reporting a confirmed or suspected case of Covid and the rest self-isolating following a positive contact.

With the summer break just 48 hours away, parents are pulling their children out of classrooms to avoid having their staycations ruined, amid warnings from travel bosses that a lack of staff will leave holiday lets and attractions unable to open.

Staff shortages fuelled by self-isolating staff have seen green bin deliveries suspended in at least eight council areas, including Liverpool and Bristol, as shoppers took pictures of empty shelves and oil giant BP blamed petrol shortages at an M25 service station on the closure of a distribution centre.

Yet more schools, libraries, art galleries and hospitality venues today revealed fresh tales of woe, with one Bournemouth restaurant losing thousands of pounds after having to cancel 100 table covers when one chef received an app notification.

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