MPs vote for anti-strike bill that could put nurses’ jobs at risk

‘Indefensible’ bill heavily criticised over possibility that striking nurses could face dismissal during an NHS recruitment and retention crisis

‘Indefensible’ bill heavily criticised over possibility that striking nurses could face dismissal during an NHS recruitment and retention crisis

Business secretary Grant Shapps introduced the controversial bill Picture: Parliament TV

A new anti-strike bill that could see nurses sacked for striking has passed its second reading in the House of Commons.

The Minimum Service Levels Strike Bill will enforce minimum staffing levels during industrial action in the health service, as well as transport, border security and fire brigade services.

Thousands protest against anti-strike bill

It could mean nursing staff and other health workers may face dismissal for taking part in strike action against the direction of employers.

As thousands protested outside Downing Street with campaign group Enough is Enough, MPs voted 309 votes to 249 in favour of the bill, a majority of 60.

‘Foolish’ and ‘shameful’: MPs react to ‘sacking nurses bill’

Speaking in parliament, Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said: ‘The sacking nurses bill is one of the most indefensible and foolish pieces of legislation to come before this house in modern times.

‘It threatens teachers and nurses with the sack during a recruitment and retention crisis. It mounts an outright assault on the fundamental freedom of working people while doing nothing… to actually resolve the crisis at hand.’

Scottish National Party MP Joanna Cherry compared the approach to Vladimir Putin’s Russia, and dismissed claims by the government that these laws would bring the UK in line with France and Spain, where arrangements are sought through collective bargaining.

But former home secretary Priti Patel said the list of sectors required to have minimum staffing during strikes should be widened even further, as the National Education Union announced teachers will strike in England and Wales in February.

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland was the only member of the Conservative party to vote against the bill, which he called a ‘shameful’ piece of legislation.

Government accused of steamrollering’ legislation

Unions have criticised the bill heavily, with the Trades Union Congress accusing the government of 'steamrollering' it through parliament without proper scrutiny. The RCN has called the bill ‘undemocratic’ and called for safe staffing ratios on shifts all year round to protect patients.

It comes as the RCN announced new strikes dates for 6 and 7 February, which will include all members across England and Wales at 85 NHS trusts.

On Wednesday and Thursday this week nursing staff across England will stage two 12-hour walk outs at 55 trusts in England in a dispute over pay and safe staffing.

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