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Health Secretary Wins Legal Battle Against RCN

A High Court judge has ruled in favour of the government in a recent legal battle between the government and the RCN.

The dispute centred around the RCN’s plans to strike for 48 hours from 8pm 30 April to 8pm 2 May. Steve Barclay claimed that the strike was unlawful, due to the nurse’s strike mandate expiring on 1 May, and took legal action on behalf of NHS employers and to “protect nurses”.

The RCN had planned the strike action following the rejection of the government’s 5% raise pay offer. Pat Cullen, RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive, had called for the government to reopen negotiations and insisted that a “historic” offer would be needed for strike action to end.

According to BBC News, the judge agreed that the mandate would no longer apply by 2 May, and therefore the strike was partly unlawful. The RCN have also been ordered to pay the costs of the hearing, and the judge claimed the union had showed "a high degree of unreasonableness”.

In response to the ruling, Pat Cullen said: “The full weight of government gave ministers this victory over nursing staff. It is the darkest day of this dispute so far – the government taking its own nurses through the courts in bitterness at their simple expectation of a better pay deal.”

The Chief Executive also claimed that the ruling may lead to more nurses voting in next month’s ballot for a further six months of industrial action, saying: Nobody wants strikes until Christmas – we should be in the negotiating room, not the courtroom today.”

Steve Barclay released an official statement following the High Court ruling, saying: "I firmly support the right to take industrial action within the law – but the government could not stand by and let plainly unlawful strike action go ahead.”

Considering the ruling, the RCN announced that the strike would go ahead, but would end at 11.59pm on 1 May, as opposed to 8pm on Tuesday 2 May.

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