Ahead of the first Tynwald sitting of 2024, we look back on a year of Manx politics.

2023 may be remembered as a year of strikes, travel disruption or the year that Shoprite was bought over by Tesco.

Whilst many continued to struggle financially due to the continued effects of the cost of living crisis, the inflation rate steadily decreased from 8% in January to 5.7% in November.

The year started with teacher strikes, which were a continuation of at the end of 2022.

For the academic year of 2022 to 2023, there were six planned strike days, in a dispute between teaching union NASUWT and the Department for Education, Sports and Culture, over pay, workload and working conditions.

But of the six planned strike days, three were called off due to ‘productive talks’.

One year on from when the latter half of strike days were called off, the union and the DESC remain in dispute, with action short of strike continuing, where staff only undertake one break duty per week.

Also striking in the past year, were members of union Royal College of Nursing, who planned four days of strikes, although only two went ahead.

The other two strike days planned for November 2023, were paused, as Nurses accepted a new pay offer from Manx Care.

The agreed settlement was a consolidated pay increase of £1,500 to each pay point, with effect from 1 April 2022, in addition to the 6% increase already implemented.

But the last month of the year was dominated with the dispute between union Nautilus International, and the Steam Packet, over a live on board policy for Manxman crew.

The change in policy coincides with the arrival of the Steam Packet’s new flagship vessel, Manxman, which made its way to the island from Korea in the summer.

The Steam Packet says that the move would help limit sailing cancellations due to lack of staff.

On Friday (January 5), Nautilus International members ended industrial action as Steam Packet indicated it would withdraw notices issued in December. That notice had told members they would lose their jobs unless they agreed to the new terms and conditions, notably living on board.

The airport faced a number of challenges at Ronaldsway in the year.

From mid February to early April the Instrument Landing Systems, a precision radio navigation system which enables aircrafts to land in poor visibility, were replaced.

This made it more difficult for aircrafts to land in certain conditions.

At the height of disruption whilst the ILS was being replaced (March 1 to 22), 17% of flights to or from the island were disrupted.

But the difficulties weren’t over for the airport, with an announcement in June that five daily closures at Ronaldsway would be implemented due to staff shortages in Air Traffic Control, with staff needing to meet their minimum rest requirements.

Once again, the airport faced heightened disruption, which continued over the summer. The daily closures were reduced in early August, and stopped later that month.

The year saw the airport receive two UK rankings.

Loveit Coverit, experts in travel insurance, aggregated Google review scores and customer ratings from the airports and airline review site SKYTRAX to calculate the average customer review score for each of the UK’s international airports.

Ronaldsway was voted the fourth best in the UK, sharing the position with London City and Inverness, and lauded for its ‘pleasant ambiance’.

But the same company found that Ronaldsway had the fourth worst cancellation rate over the summer in the UK.

There was a reported 128 cancellations out of 2,849 scheduled flights this summer, a 4.49% cancellation rate. In the transition to net zero, a commitment was made to renewable energy, as Manx Utilities outlined and confirmed its chosen windfarm site as Earystane and Scard, subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment, which is set to be completed in 2025.

Meanwhile progress for Crogga, which aims to drill for natural gas off the East coast of the island, has been slow.

The political debate was dominated by whether the company, which was granted a licence to drill in 2018, would be able to drill an appraisal well before undertaking a 3D seismic survey.

Infrastructure Minister, Tim Crookall, is yet to make his decision on the matter.

The year marked 50 years since the Summerland fire, where 50 people were killed and a further 80 seriously injured.

As the island fell silent to mark the anniversary, Chief Minister, Alfred Cannan, issued the first government apology for the failings that could have prevented the tragedy. The Assisted Dying Bill, which would introduce legislation that would enable a terminally ill, mentally competent person to, at their request, with specified assistance, end their own life, passed its second reading in the House of Keys in October, with the clauses stage having been referred to a committee.

The chief executive of campaign group Dignity in Dying called it a ‘historic vote’ ahead of the second reading, but the public and political debate on the matter was very split.

The Relationships and Sex Education curriculum was put under the spotlight across the UK, as parents voiced concerns over the content that was being taught to their children.

The curriculum was suspended, and a review undertaken. The findings and lessons from that review are to be implemented, with the curriculum set to resume early this year, according to Julie Edge, Minister for Education, Sports and Culture. The year also saw the Department for Enterprise enter a new TT merchandise contract, with company Cube Partnership, in January 2023.

But this was novated to parent company, Cube International Ltd, with Cube Partnership going into voluntary liquidation in July.

Last week, Cube International, which had held the TT merchandise contract until the government pulled the plug over unpaid debts, collapsed into administration.

Cube had owed the government £160,000 plus VAT, and had paid none of the money owed.

Finally, in October, it was announced that Tesco would be taking over all nine Shoprite stores.

This weekend saw the closure of the first two shop locations, namely Douglas and Castletown, as they transition into Tesco.

It marks the end of 51 years of the local supermarket.