Why is Steve Barclay taking legal action against nurse strike – on a technicality?

Last Updated: April 23, 2023By Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Did you understand that Health Secretary Steve Barclay is taking legal action against the Royal College of Nursing, not because its strike from April 30 to May 2 is illegal in itself, but because he disagrees with its timing?

When the RCN balloted its members for strike action on November 2 last year, the mandate was to last six months.

Barclay reckons that means the mandate ends on May 1 and therefore most of the second day of the 48-hour strike (it ends at 8pm BST on May 2) falls outside the RCN’s mandate to strike.

The RCN disagrees (obviously) – and This Writer tends to agree. If the ballot takes place on a particular day – it seems to me – any mandate must begin on a subsequent day; the following day seems the logical choice.

The RCN’s argument seems to corroborate this, as it quotes a precedent from a miner’s strike from 1995 that gives it until midnight on May 2.

Here’s Taj Ali to provide some background:

The threat of an interim order to stop the strike has been considered offensive by many:

The request for an order that stops strike action until a court has decided whether it is legal could be a double-edged sword for the government.

If the court rules in the government’s favour, then the RCN has said it will abide by the decision.

But if it rules against Barclay, then he will have hindered a legal strike for no good reason at all. That would be a public-relations disaster for him and his government.

They would have force-halted a legal and reasonable strike for no good reason.

They would have demonstrated that they are not to be trusted on any level in negotiations over pay.

They would have shown that they are unfit to serve the UK as its government.


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One Comment

  1. Hecuba April 24, 2023 at 11:14 am - Reply

    I suggest the RCN imitate the fascist tories and ignore the law! RCN nurses have right to strike and this they will do irrespective of weak threats from the fascist tory dictators!

    Do not forget the fascist tories continue to break the law whenever it suits their purpose so why should the RCN nurses not do the same? But in reality the RCN nurses are not breaking the law unlike the fascist arrogant tories!

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