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UK Government to hold Cobra meetings as border force staff at Cardiff and other airports strike

12 Dec 2022 3 minute read
Rishi Sunak picture by Stefan Rousseau / PA. Cardiff Airport. Photo by Jonathan Winton and is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Plans for military staff and civil servants to cover for striking Border Force staff at airports including Cardiff are among the contingency measures set to be discussed at a Cobra meeting today.

The UK Government confirmed that military personnel and civil servants are being trained to help step in, as the country faces an intensifying wave of planned strikes over conditions and pay this month from nurses, paramedics and rail workers to Border Force officials.

Staff at Cardiff, Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester, and Birmingham airports will strike for eight days from December 23 to New Year’s Eve. Staff at some ports have also announced strike action.

The UK Government said that members of the armed forces will also be deployed to hospital trusts across the country in order to familiarise themselves with vehicles ahead of an ambulance strike scheduled for December 21.

Some members are already being trained up as part of contingency planning by Border Force officials, as the Government aims to avoid widespread travel disruption at Christmas.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden will on Monday lead the first of two Cobra (civil contingencies committee) meetings next week which will be attended by transport, health, home office and defence ministers.

Another meeting is scheduled to take place on Wednesday.

Mr Dowden said called on unions to call off the “damaging” strikes.

“The stance the unions have taken will cause disruption for millions of hardworking people over the coming weeks.

“The Government will do all it can to mitigate the impact of this action, but the only way to stop the disruption completely is for union bosses to get back round the table and call off these damaging strikes.

“Although departments are responsible for plans in individual sectors, it is right that the Cabinet Office coordinates a cross-Government response.

“I will be chairing a series of Cobra meetings over the coming weeks to ensure our plans are as robust as possible, and that disruption is kept to a minimum.”


‘End disputes’

Royal College of Nursing members are due to take part in unprecedented strike action on December 15 and December 20, with tens of thousands of nursing staff expected to take industrial action.

With a series of rail strikes also planned between now and early January, the Government has said it was working with Network Rail and freight companies to prevent delays and to ensure coal, steel and waste are prioritised.

A Royal College of Nursing spokesperson said: “The urgent meeting that the Government would really benefit from convening is with us. Negotiate now and pause these strikes.”

Unison’s head of health Sara Gorton echoed that message.

“The wage rise given to health workers this year simply hasn’t been enough to stop staff leaving in droves. Without enough employees in the NHS, patients will go on waiting too long for ambulances and for treatment to start,” she said.

“Instead of putting plans in place for the strike days, ministers should be concentrating all their efforts on ending the disputes.”

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Cynan again
Cynan again
1 year ago

How many people are now striking, in this winter of recession, energy crisis and food crisis, caused by Tory ideology? How can they even stay in power? Why has a revolution not started? Previously all the little piggies didn’t care so long as THEIR troughs were full. Now, only a few greedy piggies have plenty. In the disUK and in Cymru I have to ask, what will it take? Neither of the two “choices” in their power swapping pact (blue Tories and red Tories) do anything for their people OR our people. Perhaps we should just depopulate the whole island… Read more »

Steve A Duggan
Steve A Duggan
1 year ago

Years of austerity, poor wage rises and Brexit, have all now been made far worse by the current cost of living crisis. However, how much, I wonder, would it cost to settle all these disputes and bring wages to where they should be? The government (UK) can find money when it wants to, obviously in this case – it does not want to. It doesn’t want to even negotiate. It’s another black mark for the Tories. They’ll be decimated at the next GE and in the future will be the primary reason why the UK does not exist at all.

Cynan again
Cynan again
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve A Duggan

They are hoping the freezing temperatures and unaffordable food and energy prices will drive the strikers back to work whilst, without a hint of irony” accuse the strikers of supporting Putin. Despite the fact that Putin’s tinkering with disUK’s electoral system is the only reason they are in power at all!

1 year ago

What I can not work out is, with all the unrest and planned strike action, opinion polls show, if a general election was called now, it would end in a hung parliament. In England they would still vote Tory in enough numbers to allow this. People of Cymru must now see the pointlessness of remaining in the UK, as large amounts in England will always vote Tory, no matter how bad things get.

1 year ago

A scenario not yet mentioned, and should not be contemplated, is if those that went on strike and the government brought in the army all employees handed in their resignation.

Cynan again
Cynan again
1 year ago
Reply to  David

Following Tory mismanagement the Brrrritish army is 80,000 at full strength. Many are deployed overseas on other duty. The sailors can’t be used in any numbers, because their boats can’t be left bobbing about on the sea. The RAF similarly need to keep their aircraft maintained and the RAF Regiment need to keep the bases safe from interloping squirrels. So when over 200k people are on strike, where are the army going to find the numbers to be strike breakers? Well there’s the Territorials. But they already have day jobs. You will not get any more work done. You will… Read more »

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