Radiographers join rally in protest over government's anti-strike legislation

SoR members joined other organisations for a rally in Cheltenham to express displeasure with the Minimum Service Act

Published: 01 February 2024 Trade Union & IR

SoR members joined forces with other Trade Unions Congress organisations in a rally against anti-strike legislation last weekend. 

Held in Cheltenham on 27 January, the 'Protect the Right to Strike' rally was a mass protest against the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels Act) introduced by the government last year.

The Strikes Act forces workers in certain sectors to attend work even when those workers lawfully vote to strike – with noncompliant workers being sacked. This law could curtail the right to strike for one in five workers across the country.

‘Unnecessary, unfair, and unjustifiable’

The march took place at Montpellier Gardens, Cheltenham starting at 12pm, with radiographers from across the country attending in order to demonstrate their support on behalf of the SoR and the Trade Unions Congress (TUC).

The rally also commemorated the 40th anniversary of the controversial ban on trade unions for staff working at the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

Radiographers who were in attendance shared their experiences and their frustrations.

Julie Broomer, breast imaging QA lead and SoR rep at Worcestershire Royal Hospital, said: “Good to see so many people from such a wide range of professions coming together to stand up for their rights. The turnout was significant with people from across the whole spectrum of public services, yet, disappointingly, the rally seemed to miss the attention of national news coverage.”

Ms Broomer explained she attended the rally because the Minimum Service Act is “unnecessary, unfair and unjustifiable.”

‘This can’t be right’

“Workers ensure emergency cover is in place, an increased level of cover would be barely distinguishable from normal service in most imaging departments," she added.

"To be honest none of us want to strike, but it can't be right to give our employers control over us exercising our right to strike.

“Obtaining a mandate to strike has become more and more difficult, this piece of legislation seems to mean that once all the difficult and restrictive criteria are met, our employers still have the final say whether each of us personally can actually take part in industrial action without risking our jobs. This can’t be right.”

SoR council member Leah Marsden was also in attendance.

Ms Marsden said: “It was inspiring to join a large and loud crowd of diverse people rallying and marching in Cheltenham on Saturday, supporting our right to strike and marching against the government’s efforts to impose minimum staffing levels in an effort to limit the potential for industrial action.”

‘Drastic and draconian’

“I support safe staffing, but one of the best ways to do that is to attract more people to radiography and reduce vacancy rates, which I think is best done with pay restoration and improving terms and conditions. Ideally, radiographers would not have to strike at all, but when their voices are ignored then industrial action is a last resort – removing that ability at the same time that the government has refused to negotiate meaningfully and help solve the staffing crisis is drastic and draconian. 

“The Cheltenham rally showed everyone in good spirits and lots of families in attendance – I was a little late but I knew I would find us by our banner (and appropriately marching next to the physios), and it was a noisy and positive effort at a time when I feel the government has tried to ignore us.”

The SoR has recently been involved in a host of strike action, in protest against working conditions in the health service, both in England and in Northern Ireland.

A generalised day of action took place in Northern Ireland on Thursday, 18 January, in protest of the poor pay faced by radiographers in the region – which stands far below pay for equivalent positions in England, Scotland and Wales.

(Image: Radiographers at the Right to Strike Rally)