The government has begun plans to prepare the army to break strikes, as the Tories look to neutralise the continuing resistance to their constant downward pressure on rights and living standards.
The first targets of this militarised scab action are set to be members of the PCS union working in the Border Force, allowing the government to claim it is acting to maintain national security, while it sets a modern precedent for the use of the armed forces to undermine – and potentially attack – working-class people fighting for their pay, working conditions and employment rights. The plans have been approved by disgraced Home Secretary Suella Braverman.
PCS members in the Border Force and other government bodies have voted massively for ”sustained industrial action’. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka attacked the planned scab force, which will initially consist of some five hundred military personnel, and said that the armed forces have repeatedly said such action is not their job:
This is pure desperation by Suella Braverman. Time and again, the military has been clear it has its own job to do and doesn’t want to spend time covering for the government’s failures.
The government’s attempts to recruit a strike-breaking workforce from within the civil service has also clearly failed, which is no surprise when it continues to treat its workforce with contempt, offering them only a 2% pay rise.
Instead of scrambling around for increasingly desperate solutions, the government should sit down with us at the negotiating table and agree a fair pay rise for workers who helped carry this country through the pandemic.’
The government must look at the huge vote for strike action across swathes of the Civil Service and realise it can no longer treat its workers with contempt.
We are calling on the government to respond positively to our members’ demands.
PCS members are looking for protections to terms and conditions along with a ten percent pay rise.
Anyone who doubts that the Tories would use the military to attack striking workers if they can get away with it need only look at the miners’ strike of the 1980s under Thatcher, where soldiers dressed as police officers were used to mount mass assaults against picketing miners. Soldiers ordered to carry out Border Force duties would have to cross picket lines, which could well involve violence. In addition, governments have previously used soldiers to man engines during strikes by firefighters, but the indications appear to be that the Tories are breaking the ground in preparation for a widened misuse of military resources to undermine resistance to the right’s incessant assault on living standards and human rights.
The fact that the first use of the military strike-breaking force will be against immigrants is also particularly sinister, bringing to mind the perceptive words of left-wing legend Tony Benn, who warned:
The way a government treats refugees is very instructive because it shows you how they would treat the rest of us if they thought they could get away with it.
This government seems to think it can get away with it.
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