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Ministers to hold emergency Cobra meeting today as Britain rocked by nationwide strikes

Daily Express logo Daily Express 12/12/2022 Millie Cooke
Rishi Sunak © Getty Rishi Sunak

Ministers are holding an emergency Cobra meeting today as the country is rocked by a wave of strikes. The Government will discuss contingency plans for the strikes, including drafting in the military and civil servants to replace striking Border Force staff and ambulance drivers.

Industrial action is expected to cause widespread disruption across the country in the leadup to Christmas.

Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden, who will chair today's meeting, urged unions to call of the strikes and "get back round the table".

He said: "The stance the unions have taken will cause disruption for millions of hardworking people over the coming weeks," he said.

"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.

"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."

This comes as the country is set to be rocked by nationwide strikes across transport, the civil service, Royal Mail and the NHS.

Mr Sunak is currently preparing legislation to crackdown on striking workers and "ensure the Government has the power to keep the country moving" ahead of a winter of discontent.

The Prime Minister's official spokesperson said the plans would "go beyond" previously floated legislation, which was focussed on maintaining minimum service levels in key industries.

But the Labour party has described the plans as being "unworkable", accusing the Government of "grandstanding".

Strike action at ambulance trusts is scheduled to take place on December 21 and 28 in what will be the largest coordinated industrial action from ambulance trusts for 30 years.

The action is a coordinated walkout planned by the three main ambulance unions - Unison, GMB and Unite.

While unions have said that "life and limb" cover will be provided during any industrial action, they are yet to clarify exactly what this will entail.

Nurses' strikes are scheduled to take place in the leadup to Christmas on December 15 and December 20, with up to 100,000 nurses set to join the walkouts.

As many as 200,000 health workers are currently thought to be backing industrial action.

Meanwhile, the Rail and Maritime Union last week announced a series of 48-hour strikes in December and January after negotiations with the industry failed to reach an improved settlement.

More than 40,000 members across Network Rail and 14 train operating companies will take strike action on December 13, 14, 16 and 17 and on January 3, 4, 6 and 7.


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