The UK is currently gripped by a wave of strikes from public sector employees – nurses, teachers, postal workers, train drivers, paramedics, and soon junior doctors too. But this raises complex ethical questions. Few Christians would deny it is legitimate for private employees to withhold their labour in order to demand better pay or conditions, but it is not the governmental employers who will suffer in public sector strikes but patients, students and ordinary citizens. In this first part of our conversation we discuss the origin of striking as a tactic, the history of how British law does or does not permit certain professions to go on strike, and the complexities of healthcare workers in particular walking off the ward, while maintaining (or not) their legal duty of caring for vulnerable patients.
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