Analysis comment

Tories plan to train army to break strikes

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.

SKWAWKBOX needs your help. The site is provided free of charge but depends on the support of its readers to be viable. If you’d like to help it keep revealing the news as it is and not what the Establishment wants you to hear – and can afford to without hardship – please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal or here to set up a monthly donation via GoCardless (SKWAWKBOX will contact you to confirm the GoCardless amount). Thanks for your solidarity so SKWAWKBOX can keep doing its job.

If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.


  1. “the armed forces have repeatedly said such action is not their job” –
    Wonder if they’ll refuse to do it?
    After all, the Armed Forces swear loyalty to the Crown, not the Government

  2. As a young squaddie during the fireman’s strike, I can assure you that we got on very well with the pickets in Central London. We had loads of long conversations deep into the freezing, nights around the braziers- out of uniform of course. They were very sympathetic about our pay and conditions as we were with theirs. Sadly we were ordered to stop fraternizing with them and had to begin patrols with nailed pick axe handles under the fake news that the FBU was sabotaging appliances and preparing actual assaults against us. I was already a red but it was still great to see a meeting of minds between two such opposites. Sure we had Union haters in our ranks but there were never open displays of hostility. Later came The Great Strike by which time I was a civvy and carded up. Nasty things took place and I spotted things immediately. Joe could no doubt add some similar occasions and events from a different venue. Solidarity comrades, it’s all we’ve got. Oh by the by, Jock the Hat served. He was in the cadets!

  3. We are moving backwards now..
    After the second world war and real change “that happened by the fear of over a million demobed trained killers returning from Europe and further afield.The working class defended Britain and the upper classes were frightened of them our soldiers returning to civilian life after more than six years killing foreign working class people also exploited by their elite classes.
    Soldeirs have been used before in history especially in N.Ireland which was necessary to maintain the empire state.and keep the Natives downtrodden.Sinn Fein predicted many years ago that the working class in Britain would be exploited much the same as the Ulster working class Catholic or protestant have been for over a century now..
    Internment camps and Police armoured vehicles have not been used in Britain…..but if they can be used against civilians in Ireland then how long before its used in Britain.?.Democracy or the pretence of democracy as gone out of the window due to years of Tory government,with the the Labour tribute act only furthering the disintegration of Britain and British business which however we look at it we all desperately need….Amateur Me Me Me” politics as brought the British state to its knees and its not going to be cured by more austerity and draconian measures againt the working class of Britain and Ulster….Desperate times do not mean desperate measures even if the ruling classes are frightened once again of the power of a united working class against tyranny.!

  4. I hope the army stand its grounds and say no. The officers maybe come from the well healed middle/upper classes but the foot soldiers come from the working classes and mainly from communities left behind.
    Hence, they are going to have more in common with the strikers that the government would like to think. It could be dangerous anyone remember what happened in Iran in the late 1970s? The Shah lost control of the country because its foot soldiers refused to shoot on civilians demonstrating.
    The ones demonstrating were members of their family and neighbours and the Iranian soldiers refused to obey orders.
    Most of them didn’t support the ayatollah Khomeini as army recruit they were subjected to a great deal of ” westernisation” but shooting fellow Iranians was not something they were prepared to do and the Shah felt.
    It only speaks for the desperation of the Tories and they loosing the plot, it could well backfire.

    1. Reply to Maria
      There is no chance of rank and file soldiers defying the top brass – none whatsoever in my opinion .
      Soldiers and all members of the armed forces are obliged to obey orders given by their superiors. Deliberately disobeying an order is a disciplinary offence which could lead to a dishonourable charge. This means a loss of their career and livelihood, loss of pension, loss of accommodation ( in most cases) and decreased chances of finding new employment.
      Furthermore I don’t think any striking worker would expect an ordinary soldier to “stand his ground and say no” in these circumstances.

      1. Smartboy, their is a legal precedent for disobeying orders and that is when the order is deemed to be illegal. Care to remember Nuremberg?
        It could be legally argued that it is not part of the soldiers contracts of employment to break strikes as in the UK the right to strike still legal.
        Do you honestly thing that if most soldiers decided to stand up and say NO the brass is going to go down the route of disciplinary offences? Please, they would be scared stiff that their men could riot and then what?
        Do you think the brass really has the courage to go after men that have been trained to kill enemies? Because at that point, wouldn’t the officers be seeing as enemies if threatening their livelihoods? Beside the loyalty to the Army is to the Crown and not to the government.

      2. Reply to Maria
        I disagree with you Maria. The ” I was only following orders ” defence at Nuremberg was held not to be valid in respect of mass murder and the running of the Nazi mass murder machine. Clearly it is also be an invalid defence for murder by British soldiers today
        However any squaddie who was ordered to and refused to drive a vehicle on the grounds that doing so constituted scab labour or because he supported the strikers would find himself in big trouble and out on his ear in no time.
        I am really surprised that you do not think that this would be the case so I think we will have to agree to disagree on this one.

  5. Seig heil Frau Braverman, a second generation immigrant who is orchestrating pulling up the ladder from the refugees that have been bombed out of their homes and lives with British made munitions & weapon systems.

  6. Army to cover for border patrol
    Army to cover for the fire bobbies
    Army to cover ambulance crews
    Army to cover shortage of hgv drivers
    Army to cover covid jabs
    Army to assist with national grid repairs
    Army to assist with flood defences

    Any left? Best not be any civil unrest this winter then, eh? 😙🎶

  7. Not surprising when you consider what that Moronic General said on TV about how the Army would take a dim view if Corbyn won the GE. No doubt they would have held a coup and got rid of our democratically elected leader…..

    1. Five billion commited to build 5 new war ships along with the three already being built…moneys always available for wars and conflicts wherever the opportunity arises for the warmongering politicians.Note their pensions and benefits in the House of horrors is on a treble lock permanently….on that they all agree.!

    2. Reply to baz2001
      It is very likely that the Army top brass would have taken some sort of action if Jeremy had won the election. After all, they were (and still are) so paranoid about Reds under the bed that they plotted to overthrow Harold Wilson in the 1960s.I think that was only Lord Mountbatten’s intervention that stopped them staging some sort of military coup back then . Unbelievable Baz but true.

      1. Smartboy. I have no doubts that they would have done it. May told Corbyn in the House one day…”We will never let you run this country” And I’m sure she meant it. When JFK wanted world peace they simply took him out, and look how many wars have been created since then.

      2. I agree Baz – the power of the establishment enforced by military might is very frightening.

  8. Have always thought military personnel should be trade unionised on non-battlefield scenario issues? For example it was reported recently that some are living in poor quality housing and sadly quite a few end up homeless and on the streets.

    1. I don’t think that is right Bazza. The Military like the police are not allowed by law to be members of a Trade Union. Police Officers have the Police Federation to represent them in e.g. disciplinary cases so I assume the military have something similar but not a trade Union.

  9. Well I don’t think that we need to be praising old child molester Lord Mountbatten on here,but being as the same poster thinks Leon Brittain former tory home secratary and abuser was a “poor “Old man I am not suprised anymore than the praise for Richard Nixon President of the USA and architect of the Chemical bombing of Neutral countries in a illegal war against Cambodia and Laos in the Veitnam debacle was. “Not a warmonger” according to our clever lad 👦 Failing memorys I can excuse but continual praise for perverts “no way Jose” …or should I say the much misrepresentation of the Term “Smartboy” .I suppose Edward heath of the Westminster paedophile ring was another “poor old Tory boy or do you just like supporting” sicko ” groups of people who claim to be honest and helping the working class.?

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: