"You could argue that the first phase, if you like, of austerity hit people who are more marginal and hence protests were more muted or got less attention. This second phase of austerity might hit people who have a stronger voice," Emran Mian, director of U.K. think tank the Social Market Foundation, told CNBC.
There is also significantly less panic about the potential fallout from the credit crisis now, when the continent has been economically stable for several years, than in 2010-13. In bailed-out Ireland, when consultant doctors had a blanket 30 percent pay cut in 2012, there was barely a whimper, whereas salary cutting proposals for junior doctors in the U.K. last month have been met with fury and a concerted social media campaign.
There are legitimate concerns that the post-credit crisis environment is allowing some governments or corporations to bring in cost cuts or other measures that could cause long-term damage. In the case of the U.K., the trade union movement is up in arms about government proposals to limit strike action, particularly in public services. Frances O'Grady, the general secretary of the Trade Union Congress, described the proposals as "disproportionate and unnecessary" to CNBC. She also pointed out that the number of days lost to strike action in the UK is in long-term decline -- around one-tenth of the level they were in the 1980s, according to TUC data.