(PatrioticPost.com)- The UK government’s plans to use troops to keep public services running while workers’ strikes continue have drawn warnings from the military about the damage to morale.
Former commanders and serving senior officers warn that having soldiers spend their third consecutive Christmas working non-military duties could damage morale and shouldn’t be seen as a long-term solution to industrial disputes.
About 1,000 military personnel are expected to be deployed on military aid to the civilian authorities over Christmas. Currently, 600 soldiers are training to cover ports and airports for striking Border Force staff, while others will likely be called for emergency duties during the ambulance workers’ strike that is planned from December 21 to 28.
The British armed forces are not permitted to strike or take part in any industrial action.
General Sir Richard Barrons, a former commander of joint operations, told the UK Independent that the soldiers having to cover for striking workers over Christmas “know they will be doing so” for those who earn more than they do and have the right to strike.
Barrons said these soldiers are “once again working to help the civil authorities” when they should be “getting the training and equipment they need.” He said some of them, already feeling a bit fed up, “may leave as a result.”
The former head of the army, Lord Richard Dannatt agreed, telling the Independent that making these soldiers fill in for striking workers at Christmas damages morale and could lead to some of them quitting.
“They might think: ‘I joined to be a soldier, not a strike-breaker,’” Dannatt said.
The Police Federation also warned ministers against calling on police officers to join the military in filling in for striking workers.
Federation national chairman Steve Hartshorn called any requests for assistance a “grave concern,” noting that replacing striking ambulance workers with officers means the officers are “not performing their police duties.”
Cabinet secretary Oliver Dowden blamed the unions for the situation, saying the only way to stop the disruption “is for the union bosses to come together and call off these damaging strikes.”