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'Take action to protect the right to strike'


It has not taken long for the Conservatives to show how they intend to govern for the next five years.

Despite claiming to be the party of “hard-working people” in the run-up to 7 May, it seems the government doesn’t support hard-working people who aren’t paid enough to live on.

Last week’s Queen’s speech revealed that the government wants to make it harder for public sector workers to take strike action. Before the election, the Tories proposed a minimum voting turnout of 50% for those eligible to take part, plus a requirement for at least 40% of those entitled to vote to support a strike. Currently, unions can take industrial action with a majority vote, regardless of turnout. Under the new proposals, only the Royal College of Midwives would have legally been able to strike last autumn.

The proposals are cloaked in a desire to “save” public services from radical unionists intent on strike action. But if Mr Cameron and his cabinet had spent any time on the picket lines at NHS trusts, as the Nursing Times team did last year when the government refused to pay the 1% pay rise recommended by the NHS Pay Review Body, he would have seen a different story.

It’s not as though nurses and their public sector colleagues call strikes every Friday to get a longer weekend or just to make a bit of a fuss. I spoke to nurses who couldn’t afford to buy their own homes or go on holiday, or who were forced to work a ridiculous number of extra bank and agency shifts to feed their  kids.

Nurses had not gone on strike over pay since the 1980s, and midwives had never been on strike in their 133-year history. These are not people who strike at the drop of a hat. They are people who need to take action to show enough is enough. And they had public support: car horns beeped, passersby cheered and I even saw people trying to give nurses money.

A strike is a necessary right. If the government were prepared to pay a decent wage, and listen to the NHS Pay Review Body and the unions, the right to strike would not be necessary. Sadly it is entirely necessary. Let’s hope this proposal does not become law. Write to your MP now to try to stop this right being taken away - before it’s too late.

Jenni Middleton, editor

Follow me on Twitter @nursingtimesed


Readers' comments (16)

  • Just wanted to tell NT and other and journalists about my Employment Tribunal Hearing at Southampton ET, against IOW NHS Trust, for subjecting me to detriments, as I was a whistle Blower to CQC about patient deaths and detriments they failed to address (2013-14).
    Hearing starting on 29th of June, scheduled over two weeks. Case ref 3100 671 / 2014

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  • Sorry, sorry, sorry, but there are some people who shouldn't go on strike and nurses are amongst those people. I know this is not a popular opinion but it is my opnion and if my union were to call a strike, I would have to find some way of avoiding strike action whilst not betraying the union that has worked for the rights I have - including the right to strike. I just think that some things are morally wrong even if they are legally acceptable.

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  • so a 50% turnout is needed to make a vote valid? Not bad from a party who got around 37% in the election. Anon 3:10 the right to strike is what makes this country what it is other than a country where people are tortured or even killed when they stand up for what they think is right. I understand your point but sometimes you have to do things you don't feel good about to get what you deserve

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  • Never mind, MPs will soon have their 10% pay rise, which they say they have no choice but to take since it is recommended by their independent pay review body. Strange then that they can interfere with the nurses independent pay review body and cap pay at 1%. Obviously there is one law for MPs and another for nurses. No wonder MPs are rapidly loosing the public's respect, it is a case do as I say, not as I do.

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  • I did not come into nursing to be rich but I am really struggling. I have to do those 12 hour shift to get the extra days off to do the bank shifts. I wish I could have a holiday as do many more fellow nurses. I dread to think how ill survive if pay gets cut. I love my job just wish the government would spend the day with me on the ward with short staff no breaks.

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  • it is because nurses don't strike often that governments can get away with abusing them, when train drivers threaten strike guess what? they get their pay increase. all very well saying nurses should be denied the right to strike, but charity no longer feeds the kids

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  • Dont forget were all in this get 1%

    I get 10%...up yours nurses

    Signed D.Cameron

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  • Spot on anon 5:20 . Sometimes you have to take uncomfortable steps to get what you deserve. They did it in Australia several years ago and never looked back
    I retired some weeks ago from mental health nursing. Best thing I ever did I have got my life back. I am sleeping better eating better feel fitter and getting the jobs done that I was too knackered to do a few months ago.

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  • Relka-tapster/1726997 Wishing you alll the best.

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  • nursing, unions and striking are totally incompatible. ban them from nursing and go back to focusing on patients and their care.

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