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Anti-strike bill: RCN lobbying sees Lords pass crucial amendment

26 May 2023

Peers have voted in favour of an amendment, that the RCN helped table, to protect workers from being sacked for taking part in lawful strike action.

Nursing staff on picket line

Peers in the House of Lords have voted in favour of an amendment to the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill, known as the anti-strike bill, which would protect workers from being dismissed for taking part in otherwise lawful strike action. We strongly oppose the bill and don’t think it’s fit for purpose. 

The amendment was tabled in the House of Lords by former Chief Nursing Officer, Sarah Mullally, the Lord Bishop of London, following discussions with the RCN. Although this is a welcome victory, we will continue to highlight our opposition to the undemocratic bill for the rest of it’s passage through parliament. 

In previous debates on the bill, peers highlighted that it was not in the interest of patients and could “exacerbate severe nursing workforce shortages”. Our concerns that the bill represents an attack on nursing, a profession in which women and minority ethnic people are disproportionately represented, was also raised by Baroness Frances O'Grady, a cosponsor of the amendment.

The amendment was support by peers from all parties and the amended bill will now go to the next stage of the legislative process. We continue to urge all parliamentarians to oppose the bill as a whole.

RCN Director for England Patricia Marquis said: “Curtailing the freedom of nursing staff to take part in lawful industrial action is undemocratic and an attack on their human rights. This bill is a distraction from the real issues of severe workforce shortages, patient safety and decades of underinvestment across health and social care. We’ll continue to strongly oppose it as it passes through parliament.”

Page last updated - 14/11/2023