UK sending 1,200 troops to fill in as ambulance crews strike

A train arrives a platform at Clapham Junction station in London, on Dec. 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

The British government announced on Sunday that it would deploy 1,200 militaries to replace striking ambulance drivers and border patrol agents in the week leading up to Christmas when numerous public sector unions are on strike.

Ambulance crews are scheduled to go on strike on Wednesday, following nurses, railroad workers, passport officials, and postal workers in a series of upcoming walkouts.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the United Kingdom is experiencing its most intense strike wave in decades.

In October, over 417,000 working days were lost due to strikes, the most significant number in a decade.

Unions are seeking wage hikes to keep up with inflation, which was 10.7% in November, down slightly from 11.1% in October but still the highest level in forty years.

The Conservative government contends that double-digit wage increases would drive inflation even higher and has attempted to place the responsibility for disruption on union leaders. Sunday in the newspaper Sun, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak referred to union leaders as "Grinchs who want to steal Christmas for political gain."

Oliver Dowden, a Cabinet minister, stated that allowing public sector salaries and inflation to spiral out of hand would be irresponsible.

"The economic situation is improving. "Don't jeopardize that with these unreasonable demands," he advised the BBC.

During the winter holidays, the government anticipates that public opinion will swing against the unions as people across the United Kingdom experience postponed hospital appointments, canceled trains, and travel delays. Opinion polls indicate a substantial degree of sympathy for the workers, particularly the nurses, whose strikes across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland are the first in the Royal College of Nursing's 100-year history.

During their strikes, nurses and ambulance workers insist they will continue to respond to emergencies.

Only Kasab, the national lead officer of the Unite union, stated, "We have pledged that our members will leave picket lines and board ambulances in the event of an emergency that must be covered."

However, Matthew Taylor, the president of the NHS Confederation, stated that patients would be in danger and urged the government and unions to compromise.

"We're in the thick of winter, and the health sector is struggling to cope even on an ordinary day without industrial action," he told the BBC. "Therefore, there will be dangers for patients. There is no doubt about that."

Publish : 2022-12-18 17:36:00

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