UK Doctors Demand ‘Just & Moral’ 30% Pay Raise, Threaten Gov't With Strike

© AFP 2023 / LEON NEALThe Royal Free hospital
The Royal Free hospital - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.06.2022
A wide range of public sector workers have threatened to strike in response to the increasing costs of living in Britain, with unions representing teachers, health workers, barristers, waste disposal workers, civil servants and local government workers all threatening to stage walkouts unless their demands for higher pay are met.
Amid the cost of living squeeze, UK doctors are demanding a pay raise of up to 30 percent over the next five years, threatening to go on strike if their demands are not met, reported The Telegraph.
Medical professionals at the annual British Medical Association (BMA) conference in Brighton deplored the fact that salaries had miserably failed to keep up with inflation for more than a decade. Delegates claimed pay freezes and annual salary raises of 1 percent in the last 12 to 14 years had resulted in a real-terms pay cut of up to 30 percent.
A motion passed by the union stated that “this represents a career earnings loss amounting to millions of pounds for each of us”.
Presenting the motion to the conference, Dr. Emma Runswick, a junior doctor from Salford, said:
“Pay restoration is the right, just and moral thing to do, but it is a significant demand and it won’t be easy to win. I know that it’s likely that industrial action will be required to move the governments on this issue.”
With the current inflation running at 9.1 percent, the UK government is to make an announcement about this year's pay award shortly. At the moment, a starting salary for junior doctors is slightly over £29,000, with more experienced consultants earning more than £100,000 annually.
The motion passed at the conference noted “with horror that all doctors’ pay has fallen against RPI [the retail prices index] since 2008 to the tune of up to 30%”. Accordingly, the medical professionals said the BMA’s leadership should “achieve pay restoration to 2008 for its members within the next five years” and annually report back on progress achieved.
The motion expressed support for a campaign to increase pay for all doctors, including hospital consultants, who earn an average of £120,000 per year, and GPs, whose yearly pay amount to around £100,000. Junior doctors who earn between £29,000 and £58,000 annually are also covered by the pay uplift demand.
Joanna Sutton-Klein, a trainee accident and emergency doctor, told the conference:
“Some people might think that the demand of over 30% pay restoration is too high, they might think it is outrageous. But… It is outrageous that doctors today are unable to afford mortgages, and are delaying starting families due to our falling pay. It is outrageous that our pay has been cut. It is sensible that we demand it back.”
The BMA stated that if the government fails to commit to restoring pay, it will begin preparations for a ballot of junior doctors for industrial action by early 2023.
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Amid pay uplift demands, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson was cited as saying:
“NHS staff received a 3% pay rise last year, despite a public sector pay freeze, and in 2019 the government and the BMA agreed to a multi-year pay deal for doctors in training, which guaranteed an 8.2% rise in pay over four years. We are giving NHS workers another pay rise this year – no decisions have been made and we will carefully consider the recommendations from the independent pay review bodies.”
Medical professionals at the conference in Brighton had underscored the inspiration they received from the recent industrial action of barristers, bin collectors and cleaners, and made particular mention of the three day industrial action by the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT).
The biggest rail strike in 30 years took place on June 21, 23 and 25, with RMT general secretary Mike Lynch saying it is likely there will be more action taken.
Talks collapsed on Wednesday as both sides traded accusations. RMT members had voted in favor of strike action last month to demand better job security, conditions and pay. On the issue of wages, the RMT wants a rise of at least 7 percent.
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The UK is facing its highest rate of inflation in 40 years, as consumer prices rose by 9 percent in April 2022. The Bank of England has warned that it expects Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation to exceed 11 percent by October.
Amid soaring food and energy prices, more than four in five people across the UK are worried about their ability to afford basics necessities like food and energy over the coming months, according to a May survey by Ipsos and Sky News.
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