Lost productivity through strikes will have a negative effect on the economy, which drives up the cost of living. It sounds as if they are talking about the 1970s, when British car companies were always on strike, losing orders, not meeting deadlines, and going bankrupt. This is what is meant by 'crippling the country'. Productivity was low, as was quality with all the disruptions, so no one wanted to buy British cars. That's why our car industry disappeared. I presume the use of mothers is to include unmarried workers, to show that all women were affected by the strikes.