A LABOUR MP has said the party supports troops being called in by the UK Government to stand-in for striking workers
Rishi Sunak has urged unions to call off the next wave of NHS strikes as it emerged some 1,300 troops are being deployed this week to ‘help cope’ with the fallout from strike action.
This comes after ministers held a meeting of the emergency Cobra contingencies committee on Monday, with another planned for Wednesday.
One of the largest health unions, Unison, accused the government of “intransigence” over pay.
Ministers have said they are prepared to talk to unions, but not over wages.
Patricia Marquis, from the Royal College of Nursing, told Times Radio that nurses could stage strikes for up to six months.
The RCN has highlighted the 47,000 nursing vacancies in the NHS and Ms Marquis said operations were being cancelled and people are waiting in ambulances “every single day” within the NHS.
Ambulance crews in England are due to walk out for two days on December 21 and 28 in a row over pay, while border staff in the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) will strike for eight days from December 23 until New Year’s Eve.
Unite’s national lead officer Onay Kasab said using the military to backfill vacant roles amounted to a “desperate measure”.
“This is a hard-pressed organisation of low-paid working-class people who don’t need this on top of everything else they are currently having to deal with,” he said.
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said it appears “the door is shut” by the Government on pay negotiations, as he warned strikes will inflict “harms” on the health service.
Labour MP Stephen Kinnock confirms that the Scab Labour Party supports the army being brought in to break strikes.
Just when the going will get tough for strikers in their legitimate pursuit to hold industrial action and withdraw their labour, the Labour Party are scabbing and coming out in support of the Tory government in their attempts to break the strikes using military intervention, ultimately undermining the effects of the strike and the leverage withdrawing labour gains.
Stephen Kinnock a LABOUR MP has said the party supports troops being called in by the UK Government to stand-in for striking workers as a Tory minister claimed it was “unfair” on the armed services.
Kinnock, the Aberavon MP and shadow minister for immigration, claimed that England had been “left with no choice” but to draft in army personnel to cover for striking ambulance drivers, border staff and civil servants.
However, Unions have branded the deployment of 1200 troops as a “desperate measure”, warning that those in the armed services are not “sufficiently trained” to plug front-line staffing gaps. The chief of defence staff has also said the army should not be treated as “spare capacity”.
Have no doubt using the military in this way undermines the struggles of the striking health workers…
Speaking to Sky News, Kinnock was asked if he supported the army being brought in to cover emergency services. He said: “Well, we’ve been left with no choice, so we do support that.”
He added that the row is a “cover up for a much bigger and deeper problem”.
Kinnock added: “Britain is broken. We’ve got backlogs in passport services, seven million waiting lists on the NHS, our court system is completely failing. There are huge issues around transport and people not being able to get the trains they want to get, regardless of what’s happening with the strike, because of the failed system that we have.”
However, true that may be backing the government in deploying troops won’t help fix the problems.
You can see how far the Labour Party have travelled in little over 100 years of existence that a party that was created to support workers is now only another liberal wing of the establishment ready to support the government even in calling out the troops to undermine the power of collective bargaining.
Ironically four miles down the road from Aberavon, the constituency Stephen Kinnock represents is a place called Tonypandy. The army was used there to break a strike once, too.
Tonypandy riot, 1910
The strike marked one of the few occasions in British history that troops have been deployed against striking workers.
The Miners Strike of 1910-11 was an attempt by miners and their families to improve wages and living conditions in severely deprived parts of South Wales, where wages had been kept deliberately low for many years by a cartel of mine owners.
What became known as the Tonypandy riots of 1910 and 1911 (sometimes collectively known as the Rhondda riots) were a series of violent confrontations between the striking coal miners and police that took place at various locations in and around the Rhondda mines of the Cambrian Combine, a cartel of mining companies formed to regulate prices and wages in South Wales.
The disturbances and the confrontations were the culmination of the industrial dispute between workers and the mine owners. The term “Tonypandy riot” initially applied to specific events on the evening of Tuesday, 8 November 1910, when strikers smashed windows of businesses in Tonypandy. There was hand-to-hand fighting between the strikers and the Glamorgan Constabulary, which was reinforced by the Bristol Constabulary.
The conflict arose when the Naval Colliery Company opened a new coal seam at the Ely Pit in Penygraig. After a short test period to determine what would be the future rate of extraction, owners claimed that the miners deliberately worked more slowly than they could. The roughly 70 miners at the seam argued that the new seam was more difficult to work than others, due to a stone band that ran through it. Also, since the miners were paid by the ton of coal removed, not by hours of work, working slowly would gain them no advantage.
On 1 September 1910, the owners posted a lock-out notice at the mine, closing the site to all 950 workers, not just the 70 at the newly opened Bute seam. The Ely pit miners reacted by going on strike. The Cambrian Combine then called in strikebreakers from outside the area, to which the miners responded by picketing the work site. On 1 November, the miners of the South Wales coalfield were balloted for strike action by the South Wales Miners’ Federation, resulting in the 12,000 men working for the mines owned by the Cambrian Combine going on strike. A Conciliation Board was formed to reach an agreement, with William Abraham acting on behalf of the miners and F. L. Davis for the owners. Although an agreed wage of 2s 3d per ton was arrived at, the Cambrian Combine workmen rejected the agreement.
On 2 November, the authorities in south Wales were enquiring about the procedure for requesting military aid, in the event of disturbances caused by the striking miners. The Glamorgan Constabulary resources were stretched, as in addition to the Cambrian Combine dispute, there was a month-old strike in the neighbouring Cynon Valley; and the Chief Constable of Glamorgan had by Sunday 6 November assembled 200 imported police in the Tonypandy area.
The riots at Tonypandy
By this time, strikers had successfully shut down all local pits, except Llwynypia colliery. On 6 November, miners became aware of the owners’ intention to deploy strikebreakers, to keep pumps and ventilation going at the Glamorgan Colliery in Llwynypia. On Monday 7 November, strikers surrounded and picketed the Glamorgan Colliery, to prevent such workers from entering. This resulted in sharp skirmishes with police officers posted inside the site. Although miner leaders called for calm, a small group of strikers began stoning the pump-house. A portion of the wooden fence surrounding the site was torn down. Hand-to-hand fighting ensued between miners and police. After repeated baton charges, police drove strikers back towards Tonypandy Square, just after midnight. Between one and two a.m. of 8 November, a demonstration at Tonypandy Square was dispersed by Cardiff police using truncheons, resulting in casualties on both sides. This led Glamorgan’s chief constable, Lionel Lindsay, supported by the general manager of the Cambrian Combine, to request military support from the War Office.
Home Secretary Winston Churchill’s decision to allow the British Army to be sent to the area to reinforce the police shortly after the 8th of November riot caused much ill feeling towards him in South Wales.
Thirteen miners were arrested and prosecuted for their part in the unrest and the authorities, fearing more trouble, transformed Tonypandy and the surrounding area into a near military camp.
The trial lasted for several days and on each day 10,000 men marched through the valley and held mass meetings outside the town in support of their friends in jail, despite the streets being filled with soldiers and policemen. Eventually, several of the miners standing trial were sentenced to prison terms ranging from two to six weeks, while the others were fined and released.
Sporadic fighting continued for several more weeks and on November 22 a group of picketing miners were forced by soldiers with bayonets drawn onto a hillside near Penygraig, where they fought alongside the women of the community for several hours with troops and police. A local newspaper running a story on the event commented on the actions of the women:
“Women joined with the men in the unequal combat, and displayed a total disregard of personal danger which was as admirable as it was foolhardy. But these Amazons of the coalfield resorted to other and more effective methods. From the bedroom windows came showers of boiling water, which fell unerringly on the heads of police, while in one case a piece of bedroom ware found its billet on the skull of a Metropolitan policeman.”
Major disturbances were also reported at the town of Blaenclydach in April 1911, where heavy fighting took over the centre of the town with shops being looted as they had been in Tonypandy. The strike, however, ended several months later with the miners, feeling the strain of being without pay for so long, being forced to accept a small pay increase. They returned to the pits in early September, exactly a year after the strike had begun.