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Don't use the military to break strikes, says Peace Pledge Union

Nurses' picket line at St Thomas' hospital

Don't use the military to break strikes, says Peace Pledge Union

As nurses went on strike today, pacifists said that the UK’s massive military budget would be better spent on services such as the NHS.

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU), Britain’s leading pacifist organisation, insisted that the army must not be used to break strikes.

They added that rather than paying the army to take on the work of striking workers, the government should be diverting military expenditure to hard-pressed public services and making realistic pay offers.

The UK has the fourth highest military spending in the world, according to several academic analyses.

The government has already confirmed that troops have been trained to do the work of striking border staff, while there have been repeated suggestions that they may also be ordered to replace other striking workers.

Nurses today took strike action across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Recent weeks have seen strikes by rail workers, postal workers, university lecturers and others.

Militarism is creeping into more and more areas of civilian society,” said Symon Hill, PPU Campaigns Manager, pointing to the rise in military visits to schools and the recent creation of events such as Armed Forces Day. “Using troops to break strikes will further entrench everyday militarism, damage civilian society and undermine attempts to settle workers’ grievances.”

He added, “If ministers really want to stop the strikes, they should be engaging in real negotiations and ruling out real-terms pay cuts, rather than wasting billions on the fourth highest military budget in the world.”

A number of anti-union commentators have pointed out that many soldiers are paid less than the workers whose strikes they may be ordered to break. In response, the PPU pointed out that this is because armed forces personnel are banned from joining unions or going on strike, which the PPU has long described as a denial of human rights.

The PPU has offered to support members of the armed forces who refuse to obey orders to break strikes.


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