'How dare they': CSP marches to protect the right to strike

CSP members and staff joined the wider trade union movement to defend democratic rights to industrial action at a rally in Cheltenham on 27 January.

The CSP banner among a large trade union march
The CSP marches as part of the health workers' bloc

CSP members and staff joined the wider trade union movement to defend our democratic rights to industrial action at a rally held in Cheltenham on Saturday, 27 January.

The rally commemorated the 40th anniversary of the GCHQ trade union ban – a long dispute which eventually overturned a trade union membership ban at the state employer.  

 The march also drew attention to the new threats to workers’ rights posed by the 2023 Minimum Service Levels Act. This undemocratic new law could mean that when workers lawfully to vote strike in health, education, fire, transport, border security and nuclear decommissioning, they could be forced to attend work – and sacked if they don’t comply.

Speaking to the outset of the march, Jill Taylor – chair of CSP employment committee – asked:

How dare they! How many of us work shift after shift with less than minimum staffing?

How many of us are struggling to make ends meet on the poor wages offered by this government?

How many of us are suffering after years of austerity?

[Now]... how dare they try to deprive us of our democratic right to stand up and say – no, shout – enough is enough.


The CSP opposed the introduction of minimum service levels through all consultations, and continues to work with the TUC to counter these new restrictions – which the government’s own impact assessment shows will exacerbate industrial disputes.

Agency staff

In parallel, the CSP has responded to a government consultation seeking to end a longstanding ban on agency staff filling in for employees on strike.  

This counter-productive step could pose particular problems to those members working on NHS bank to supplement earnings.  Members working on bank contracts would not be protected from victimisation for exercising their basic trade union rights. 

The proposal is also being opposed by the REC - the main body representing UK employment agencies. The CSP continues to monitor developments with our TUC colleagues.

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