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Nurses in the National Health Service: Reflections on Recent Industrial Unrest

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 1 March 1991



The industrial unrest during January 1988 among nurses in the UK National Health Service raised the matter of the attitude and behaviour of that group of employees towards industrial action. In some circles that action is regarded as “unprofessional”. While the causes are shown to be complex, it is argued that they primarily involve two issues. First there was the threat of a fall in current pay levels and, secondly there was the view taken by those nurses that professional standards of nursing were falling. The nature of the dispute showed how professionalism and industrial action can be reconciled. This is done mainly by a “demonstration” rather than by a “stoppage”, while maintaining full cover of essential duties. A major aim of the action was to mobilise public and media opinion in favour of the nurses′ case.



Sullivan, T., Christensen, I. and Wan, D. (1991), "Nurses in the National Health Service: Reflections on Recent Industrial Unrest", Employee Relations, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 3-9.




Copyright © 1991, MCB UP Limited

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