Strikes: Government discusses plans for army to cover workers

Plans for military personnel to cover conspicuous windows in the coming weeks are being discussed by the government today.

A wave of strikes will sweep the country in the coming weeks, with Royal Mail workers, nurses, paramedics, railway workers and Border Force officials staging strikes over wages and working conditions.

Military personnel and officials are being trained in case they have to represent striking workers at ports and airports as border staff prepare for an eight-day strike over the Christmas period.

Members of the armed forces are also being dispatched to hospitals across the country to prepare to mann vehicles ahead of an ambulance strike planned for December 21, with a significant number of military personnel now expected to miss the Christmas holidays.

The Argus: Health Secretary Steve Barclay has been accused of being a'bullyboy'Health Secretary Steve Barclay has been accused of being a “bullyboy”. (Image: James Manning/PA)

Monday’s Cobra (Civil Contingencies Committee) meeting will be chaired by Oliver Dowden, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and will be attended by transport, health, home office and defense ministers.

Another meeting is scheduled for Wednesday as the government wants to avoid scenes of widespread disruption.

Mr Dowden called on unions to end the ‘harmful’ strikes.

“The stance taken by unions will cause disruption for millions of hard-working people in the coming weeks.

“The government will do everything it can to mitigate the impact of this action, but the only way to stop the disruption completely is for the union bosses to come back to the table and call off these damaging strikes.”

The Government has said it is working with Network Rail and freight companies to avoid delays and ensure coal, steel and waste are given priority during the latest strikes.

It follows a weekend of clashes between government and union officials, with Transport Secretary Mark Harper writing in The Telegraph that some families could face another “virtual Christmas” due to rail strikes over the Christmas period.

The Argus: Pat Cullen, the head of the Royal College of Nurses, accused the government of misleading the publicPat Cullen, head of the Royal College of Nurses, accused the government of misleading the public (Image: PA)

On Sunday the government rejected a last-minute offer from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) to put strike plans “on pause” this week if the Health Secretary began negotiations over pay.

As things stand, thousands of RCN members will take part in an unprecedented strike action on December 15-20, with the union’s general secretary warning the government is playing a “dangerous game”.

“The government looks desperate and appears to be misleading the public,” Pat Cullen said.

“The Foreign Secretary is dead wrong when he says this is a matter for the NHS and not the Minister. The Government makes the decisions about how NHS staff are paid. You need to correct the record and start being honest.

“My offer to negotiate today was not accepted – the government is playing a dangerous game.

Unison’s chief health officer, Sara Gorton, echoed that message.

“The wage increase for health workers this year has simply not been enough to keep staff from leaving in droves. Without enough staff in the NHS, patients will be waiting too long for ambulances and treatment to start,” she said.

“Instead of making plans for the strike days, ministers should focus all their efforts on ending the disputes.” Strikes: Government discusses plans for army to cover workers

Fry Electronics Team

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