Industrial Action Toolkit

Guidance to reps and members explaining strike law; FAQs and essential letters

Welcome to the Society of Radiographers Industrial Action Toolkit for all members. This is a generic toolkit to cover all industrial action, whether in the NHS or in the private sector.

To update or add to the FAQs, please email [email protected].

Inform your MP

Want to make sure your local MP is aware of the strikes and informed about why Radiographers are striking? Download our "Letter to your MP" document that contains information you can copy and edit before sending to your MP.

Strike Manual

Be sure that you are prepared for strike action by downloading our Strike Manual.

Preparing for Industrial Action

Please explore the following FAQs to help prepare you for Industrial Action

For specific guidance on how striking will affect pay, please view Capsticks guidance to NHS trusts, pages 28-31.

Advice on Strike Action for members and reps

  • Who can participate in strike action?

    Any member or non-member with a contract of employment with the employer we are in dispute with can participate in strike action following a ballot of all eligible Members.

    The law protects SoR members and non-members against dismissal for participating in industrial action. More information available:

    Members of any other union who work within Radiology or Radiotherapy and participate in the strike action will be deemed to be taking unofficial action and, therefore will not be protected against dismissal. These colleagues should take their union's advice about what to do on our strike days.

    Internationally educated staff are protected under the law, and taking strike action will not affect their visa status or future employment prospects.

    The society would ask that Bank or Agency staff refrain from covering shifts in Trusts involved in industrial action. They are free to work at employers not involved in the action, including private sector employers.

    It is the expectation that members will follow any mandate for strike action issued by UK Council following a ballot. However, no action will be taken against any member who does not participate in the call to join the strike.

  • Life and limb during industrial action

    The Society of Radiographers believes it is essential that patient care is not compromised during an Industrial Dispute. The SOR recommends that, for the duration of an Industrial Dispute, arrangements known as Derogations should be made in advance for the maintenance by members of emergency services and services to high-dependency patients that could lead to patient harm.

    We are taking industrial action because all necessary steps have been taken to try and obtain a resolution without success.

    Derogations should be provided to maintain:

    • Emergency intervention for the preservation of life or for the prevention of permanent disability
    • Care required for services without which life would be jeopardised or permanent disability would occur
    • Urgent diagnostic procedures and assessments required to obtain information on potentially life-threatening conditions or conditions that could potentially lead to permanent disability

    In addition to the agreed derogations. Management may also seek agreement on how staff may be contacted on the day of the action should staffing levels in derogated areas fall below the level agreed. This may include asking some staff who are striking to return to work. It is for staff to decide if they agree to the request to return to work. Where agreement cannot be reached on derogations, you must immediately contact [email protected], who will put you in contact with a regional officer to obtain advice on the matter.

    Preservation of life and limb

    Emergency services are defined by the Society as those which directly involve the life, limb or ultimate safety of a patient. Therefore, any SOR industrial action will follow the life-preserving care model.


    Diagnostic departments

    Before taking any industrial action, reps and members should ensure that arrangements have been made to provide staffing in line with those typically in place on Christmas Day to maintain minimum staffing levels on strike days.

    Any derogations must be agreed upon through discussion with members, the local union representative, and the employer informed of which service/procedures shall be maintained and exempt from taking part in industrial action.


    Therapy Departments

    Any derogations must be agreed upon through discussion with members, the local union representative, and the employer informed of which service/procedures shall be maintained and exempt from taking part in industrial action.

  • Picketing

    There is no legal "right to picket", but peaceful picketing has long been recognised as a lawful activity. However, the law limits how, where, and for what purpose such picketing can be undertaken. Picketing can only occur following a legal ballot in line with the requirements of the Trade Union Act [2016].

    To adhere to the requirements of the Trade Union Act [2016], the trade union must:

    • Appoint a picket supervisor who has responsibility for the picket line.
    • Must take reasonable steps to ensure that the police are informed of the supervisors' details and the location of the picket line. This can be done in person or online if available in your area.

    The law allows pickets to explain or distribute leaflets to persuade those entering or leaving the premises to support strike action. However, any such activity must be carried out peacefully in all cases.

    The code of practice regarding picketing states it is unlawful to:

    • Threaten, assault or harass those trying to enter the employer's premises.
    • Cause the obstruction of a path, entrance or exit to the premises.
    • Interfere through the noise of crowds towards neighbouring properties.
    • Trespass on private property.

    Picketing supervisor

    We expect the picketing supervisor to be the SOR representative and one other member or representative to act as deputy.

    Picketing supervisors should know that other union members or organisations may wish to join the picket line to demonstrate support. We do not object to this as long as they participate peaceful manner.


    The picketing supervisor must:

    • Carry a 'letter of authority' from their trade union and show it to the employer when requested.
    • Wear a badge, armband or similar and be easily identifiable. 

     Number of pickets

    The code of conduct states that pickets should not exceed six at any entrance to or exit from a workplace.

    However, our experience shows that the number can be higher where picketing is peaceful. Where numbers exceed the recommendation, the police have the power to impose conditions where they believe the assembly is likely to result in severe public disorder, serious damage to property, or serious disruption to the life of the community. Where the police exercise these powers, members must adhere to the order.

  • Industrial Action FAQs

    For a complete list of frequently asked questions, please view the: Industrial Action FAQs 

  • Strikes by other Unions

    Q1: Should I cross the picket line of another trade union?

    You should attend work as normal because failure to do so could be seen as a breach of contract. You could stop at any picket line on the way into work to show support for striking colleagues. You could also visit picket lines during your lunch and break times and can offer support by taking refreshments to striking colleagues.  

    Q2: Do I have to provide cover for striking colleagues?

    You should not cover the work of striking colleagues. You should attend work as normal and undertake your normal contractual role.   

    Q3: Do I have to work overtime or do extra work on the bank?

    You cannot be made or required to undertake work that is outside of your contract of employment. You should support the lawful industrial action of colleagues by not undertaking extra contractual work and/or voluntary overtime. 

Useful Links

Please find additional links below that lead to further information provided by TUC, ACAS, NHS Employers and surrounding industrial action.

Guide to: Industrial action

TUC's very own guide on industrial action

Learn more

Managing industrial action

NHS Employers' provide a guide for managers handling industrial action

Learn more

Strikes and industrial action provide an overview of what going on Strike means and what is involved

Learn more

Taking part in industrial action and strikes's overview of what is involved in taking part in industrial action and strikes.

Learn more