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Stricter strike law reforms promised in Queen’s Speech


Legislative reform that will make it harder for public sector workers to go on strike has been confirmed in the Queen’s Speech today, marking it as a priority for the new Conservative government.

Before the election, the party proposed a new minimum voting turnout of 50% for those eligible to take part, plus a requirement for at least a 40% majority of those entitled to vote before a strike can take place.

Currently, unions are able to take industrial action with a majority vote, regardless of the turnout.

“My government will bring forward legislation to reform trade unions and to protect essential public services against strikes”

The Queen

The Queen said today that the government will “bring forward legislation to reform trade unions and to protect essential public services against strikes”.

Also in her speech, which marks the Conservatives’ priorities, she said the government would implement the NHS England’s Five-Year Forward View by increasing the health service’s budget – although she did not state how soon the government would introduce the full £8bn extra a year it has promised by 2020.

In addition, integration of health care and social care, and providing a “seven-day” service that improves access in both general practice and hospitals were promised.

Improved access to mental health care and also to general practitioners were included in the speech as well.

New legislation to prohibit the use of police cells as places of safety for those under 18 years of age who have a mental health problem, as well as new laws to create a single ombudsman for public service complaints, including health, have also been confirmed.

Responding to the proposed changes to strike laws, the Royal College of Midwives policy director Jon Skewes said the plans called into questions the government’s own legitimacy, because it had failed to gain the support of 40% of those eligible to vote in the general election.

“If the government is genuinely concerned about the level of turnout… one constructive step…would be to modernise the rules so those taking part can vote online”

Jon Skewes

He said: “If the government is genuinely concerned about the level of turnout in these ballots, one positive, constructive step it could take would be to modernise the rules so that, for example, those taking part can vote online.

“Currently those taking part can only vote by post,” he said. “Make it easier for people to participate and you will help increase turnout and in turn make any result more representative of the union’s membership”.

Meanwhile, the Nursing and Midwifery Council has said a failure to include new laws that would help the regulator speed up its fitness to practise cases in the speech demonstrated a “major setback” for the regulator.

NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith said: “This is a major setback and comes despite the government’s undertaking in response to the Francis report into failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.”

She added: “There is an overwhelming consensus that our current legislation is hopelessly out of date inefficient and costly. It does not serve the public or the professions well. We are now left continuing to spend the majority of resources on the few where concerns have been raised.

“We urgently need reform that enables us to regulate nurses and midwives in the twenty-first century and we will continue to press for much needed change which will enable us to serve the professions and the public, well,” said Ms Smith.


Readers' comments (4)

  • Yes why can't we vote via the internet?

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  • Your very own great leader of the RCN scuttled any chance of strike action when he intervened on the 'enhanced payments and 7-day working' debate.

    By threatening to strike because the government wants patients to be able to see a GP 7 days a week won't have encouraged much public support On the side of nurses now would it?

    The sad thing is I don't even think he deliberately set out to prevent strike action from taking place: his uselessness as a negotiator and Chief exec shone through and made for some great headlines.

    Whether you need a 50% turn out or 100% makes no difference; nurses and nursing has no chance whatsoever with a moron like that at the helm. The RCN advancing the cause of nursing and nurses': dont make me laugh.

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  • Very crafty tories..get the new strike law in

    then go for the enhanced payments

    nurses wont return thier ballot papers like the strikes last time so no mandate to strike

    enhanced payments stopped...!!!!

    Then it will be increments, holiday pay, sick pay

    All you nureses who voted tory you will reep what you sow!!!

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  • Anonymous | 28-May-2015 10:04 am

    Yes we shall: an NHS where you can see your GP at a weekend which will hopefully stem the flow of those who feel they have no other option but to rock-up to A&E.

    An NHS which is management-light: get shot of the paper-shufflers, the clipboard carriers, the perpetual e-mailers and meeting goers and spend cash on patients, medicines and treatments.

    An NHS where the patient is the first priority and receives the right care at the right time. Consultants should be in hospitals 24 hours a day, not just Monday to Friday 9-5.

    Enhancements: when Labour - yes, the party that you and millions of others that work in the public sector voted for - introduced Agenda for Change the reason there was an initial uplift in pay was because all enhancements were to go within 2 years of implementation - the only reason they didn't do it was because of recruitment and retention issues.

    I actually voted against AfC because it was clear how pernicious it was, but you, I'm sure won't have given it a second thought focusing entirely on the extra money and back-pay you would receive.

    We don't know what the government has planned for our terms and conditions, but what I do know is that they'll do what they please because nurses would rather bitch and backstab one another than stick together and fight for their T's & C's. Even if the RCN hadn't scuttled our position last week how many of you would bother to strike?

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