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Scottish doctors to be balloted on strike action over pensions

6 November 2012

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Hospital doctors in Scotland are set to be balloted on potential strike action over NHS pension reform. 

According to the British Medical Association (BMA), the first strike action day with emergency cover is planned for 12 December 2012 with further days penciled in for 8 and 17 January 2013.

Further days of action could follow, it is claimed.

The BMA said it is “frustration” the Scottish Government has so far shown “no willingness” to offer any country-wide variation to the public sector pension reform proposals being driven by the UK coalition government, despite deeming the move as a “short term cash grab”.

“This is not where we set out to be, strike action is only ever a last resort but the intransigence of this Scottish Government has left us with little option but to press ahead with a ballot for further industrial action,” said Dr Nikki Thompson, deputy chair of the BMA’s Scottish Consultants Committee.

“With their outspoken opposition to these plans and a commitment to negotiations, Ministers have raised the expectations of NHS staff.  The Scottish Government says that it is negotiating in good faith, yet has been unable to provide clarity on the scope of these negotiations or come up with any genuine alternative to the English proposals.  This is a Government that is talking up its opposition, but failing to deliver on these words.

“Doctors believe that these changes to the NHS pension scheme are unnecessary and unfair. We are not seeking special treatment, just fair treatment. The Scottish Government can avert industrial action by entering into genuine and meaningful negotiations.”

Scotland’s Health Secretary Alex Neil described the BMA’s announcement of a ballot “disappointing” and called for hospital doctors to vote against industrial action on NHS pension reform.

Neil said he has been negotiating “in good faith” since March 2012 and has made “abundantly clear” his opposition to the UK government’s policy to increase employee contributions “at this time and in this way”.