The Tories want to send in the military to break strikes (Pictures: Guy Smallman)

The Tories want to train the army to break strikes set for the Christmas period. Around 2,000 army staff, civil servants, and volunteers are being trained for roles including ambulance drivers and firefighters to limit the impact of action. 

The deployment of troops has not been confirmed, but the Tories have said the military is part of the contingency plan if strikes go ahead. Up to 600 armed forces personnel and 700 staff from the government’s specialist surge and rapid response team are being roped in.

Tory party chairman Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News last weekend that military personnel could drive ambulances and work on the borders. He said, “We have to be able to deliver safe levels of treatment and support to patients. We’ve got to try and minimise disruption”. 

If the Tories are worried about safe levels of service, they should start by paying NHS workers more and recruiting to ease the weight of workloads. Zahawi added, “This is not a time to strike. If you chase inflation or above inflation, in some cases pay, then you will embed inflation for longer and hurt the most vulnerable.”

His attempt to paint the strikes at odds with the public’s interest and to blame for inflation is nothing new.  But their strike-breaking attempts and slandering of the strikes show they will do anything to stop workers from fighting back.

Labour has complained that the army is being called in.  Not because it could weaken the strikes but because the threat from Russia “remains acute”.

Shadow defence secretary John Healey wrote to defence secretary Ben Wallace to warn that the deployment is being used to “bail out failing services”.

And it would mean diverting troops from Estonia’s border. Labour’s commitment to military intervention and refusal to back strikes is telling.  It cannot be relied on to back the upcoming strikes in the face of attacks from the Tories and bosses.

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