UK sending 1,200 troops to fill in as ambulance crews strike

Dec 18, 2022, 3:46 AM | Updated: 3:52 am
FILE - A train arrives a platform at Clapham Junction station in London, on Dec. 14, 2022. The Brit...

FILE - A train arrives a platform at Clapham Junction station in London, on Dec. 14, 2022. The British government said Sunday Dec. 18, 2022 it will dispatch 1,200 troops to fill in for striking ambulance drivers and border staff as multiple public sector unions walk off the job in the week before Christmas. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

(AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

LONDON (AP) — The British government said Sunday it will dispatch 1,200 troops to fill in for striking ambulance drivers and border staff as multiple public sector unions walk off the job in the week before Christmas.

Ambulance crews are due to strike on Wednesday, joining nurses, railway staff, passport officers and postal workers, who are all staging a series of walkouts in the coming weeks.

The U.K.’s most intense strike wave for decades is a response to a cost-of-living crisis driven by soaring food and energy prices in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Some 417,000 working days were lost to strikes in October, the highest number in a decade.

Unions are seeking pay increases to keep pace with inflation, which was running at 10.7% in November, down slightly from 11.1% in October but still a 40-year high.

The Conservative government argues that double-digit raises would drive inflation even higher, and has tried to pin blame for disruption on union leaders. In the tabloid Sun on Sunday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak branded union chiefs “Grinches that want to steal Christmas for their own political ends.”

Cabinet minister Oliver Dowden said “it would be irresponsible to allow public sector pay and inflation to get out of control.”

“We’re making progress with the economy. Don’t put that at risk with these unaffordable demands,” he told the BBC.

The government is calculating that public opinion will turn on the unions as people across the U.K. face postponed hospital appointments, canceled trains and travel delays during the winter holiday season. But opinion polls show a high level of support for the workers – especially nurses, whose strikes across England, Wales and Northern Ireland are the first in the 100-year history of their union, the Royal College of Nursing.

Nurses and ambulance crews say they will still respond to emergencies during their strikes.

“We’ve given a commitment that our members will scramble off picket lines and get into ambulances if there are emergencies that need to be covered,” said Onay Kasab, national lead officer of the Unite union.

But Matthew Taylor, who heads health service body the NHS Confederation, said patients will be at risk, and called on both government and unions to compromise.

“We’re in the middle of winter and we have a health service which, even on an ordinary day without industrial action, is finding it difficult to cope,” he told the BBC. “So there are going to be risks to patients. There’s no question about that.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A man takes photos as a black plume rises over East Palestine, Ohio, as a result of a controlled de...
Associated Press

Residents kept out as air checked near derailed Ohio train

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (AP) — It’s unclear when evacuated residents might be able to return home to the area where officials released and burned toxic chemicals from the wreckage of a derailed train, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday. Residents near the site in East Palestine, close to the Pennsylvania line, were ordered beforehand to […]
7 hours ago
FILE - Protesters hold signs as they march during a protest over the death of George Floyd in Chica...
Associated Press

How Candid hopes diversity data will help aid racial equity

Candid, the major philanthropy research group, is leading a coalition of funders and grantees that want to standardize the collection of demographic information to help target donations to minority-led groups. Harnessing such data could help advance racial equity, said Candid’s CEO, Ann Mei Chang, who is launching a nonprofit initiative to amass more such information. […]
7 hours ago
Associated Press

Bertelsmann subsidiary to end, sell dozens of magazines

BERLIN (AP) — German media group RTL Deutschland said Tuesday it will stop publishing 23 print magazines and seek to sell almost two dozen others, affecting about 700 jobs. The company is part of Bertelsmann, the German conglomerate that also owns Penguin Random House. RTL Deutschland said it wants to focus on core brands that […]
7 hours ago
Associated Press

Germany appoints central bank IT chief to head cybersecurity

BERLIN (AP) — The German government announced the appointment Tuesday of the European Central Bank’s head of IT systems to lead the national cybersecurity agency, months after her predecessor was removed following reports of possible problematic ties to Russia. Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said Claudia Plattner “brings the experience and expertise with her that we […]
7 hours ago
Associated Press

Millennial Money: Should unmarried couples have one account?

When a couple joins financial forces, it’s typically so they can accomplish a joint savings goal or contribute to shared expenses, such as those that come from living together. This is a typical step for married couples, but more unmarried couples are taking the plunge to combine households: The number of unmarried partners that live […]
7 hours ago
Associated Press

Nigerian politician in UK court over organ-harvesting claims

LONDON (AP) — A senior Nigerian politician was on trial in London on Tuesday for allegedly exploiting a street trader by transporting him to the U.K. to donate a kidney in exchange for thousands of pounds. Ike Ekweremadu, who was deputy president of the Nigerian Senate and a lawyer, was on trial along with his […]
7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
UK sending 1,200 troops to fill in as ambulance crews strike