UK: Midwives walk out for first time during wave of public sector strikes

A series of public sector strikes hit the UK in the third quarter of 2014.

More industrial action was planned for later in the autumn, with another wave of stoppages scheduled for mid-October. The public sector strike led to debate about legislative change to industrial disputes procedures.

A ballot by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) was singled out by Prime Minister David Cameron as evidence of the need to legislate. 

Christine Blower, General Secretary of the NUT, said the ballot had been conducted within the current legislative framework which resulted in a vote for discontinuous action which would be ended only on the dispute’s resolution.

Partly in response to the debates about strike ballot legislative change, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) wrote to Business Secretary Vince Cable on 18 July 2014. It urged him to consider allowing ballots to be cast digitally

NHS workers in England were balloted on industrial action in July 2014, with midwives being balloted for the first time in their history. Unison, the Royal College of Midwives, and general unions GMB and Unite announced their intention to ballot members in response to the pay deal put forward by the coalition government in March. The government did not accept the recommendations of the independent pay review board.

Passport workers took industrial action in July 2014 in a dispute over staffing levels and pay. A 24-hour stoppage took place at all eight of the UK’s Passport Offices – Belfast, Durham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Southport, London, Newport and Peterborough.

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