The Government’s impact assessment (IA) for its anti-strike legislation ‘is not fit for purpose’, an independent committee has concluded, as the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) urges ministers to ‘drop the Bill entirely’.
Tasked with providing an opinion on the Government’s IA for the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill, the Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) has accused the Government of making ‘assumptions in the analysis which are not supported by evidence.’ And where evidence has been used to inform the content, ‘the continued relevance is not always clear’, with ‘some sources almost a decade old’, the committee highlighted.
The RPC says the IA fails to ‘consider or discuss the rationale behind workers’ decisions to strike, or consider the actions short of striking that may be taken’. The committee said: ‘The IA could have considered this, in particular as the IA notes the risk of further (and even increased) strike action.’
The RPC says ‘it is not clear that the IA considers all of the impacts of the new requirements that will be introduced via the Bill,’ concluding that it ‘is not fit for purpose’.
RCN general secretary and chief executive, Pat Cullen, said: ‘This is a damning assessment of the government’s attempt to stifle the rights of workers. The independent committee is saying it is not fit for purpose and should essentially go back to the drawing board.
‘The government is ploughing ahead with an ill thought through Bill that allows for nursing staff to be sacked for taking otherwise lawful strike action.
‘Ministers would be better off listening to the mounting opposition, drop the Bill entirely and work with unions to resolve these disputes.’
The RPC also found that the Government ‘did not follow its own policy for the timely submission of an IA to the RPC for scrutiny’. The Bill for the anti-strike legislation had already passed through the House of Commons and had moved on to the House of Lords when the IA was submitted to the RPC.
The RCN has paused nurse strikes as the college and Government have jointly agreed to enter into ‘intensive talks’, focusing on pay, terms and conditions, and ‘productivity enhancing reforms’.
This comes after the governments of both Wales and Scotland have put nurse strikes on hold by offering revised pay deals to the RCN.
The RCN had previously announced a significant escalation to industrial action in England, with a 48-hour strike planned for the 1-3 March. This strike would see nurses including cancer and emergency ward nurses from over 120 NHS employers walk out.