BMA could join strikes over public sector pensions

The BMA has refused to rule out industrial action over pensions after trade unions warned that government cuts could trigger the biggest strikes in a generation.

As many as three million public sector workers could take part in industrial action on 30 November after leading unions announced plans to ballot their members over strikes.

A BMA spokeswoman said: ‘Our preferred way forward is still to reach an agreement with the government through negotiation, and industrial action is a last resort.

‘We’re in close contact with the other health unions, and as a group we’ll be looking at all issues relating to the negotiations, including the possibility of industrial action in the event that talks fail to make progress.

‘It doesn’t necessarily follow that a decision to take action by another NHS union means the BMA will take the same action.

‘Any form of legal industrial action by doctors first requires a decision by BMA Council, and then a positive result in a ballot of the profession.’

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis warned yesterday: ‘Unison is giving notice to  9,000 employers that we are balloting for industrial action over pensions.

‘We will be standing shoulder to shoulder with unions across the public sector on 30 November, when the country will see the biggest industrial action in a generation.’

‘We have reached the 11th hour – it is time the government entered into serious negotiations. After eight months of talks they have failed to move closer to an agreement.’

A DoH spokesman said: 'The NHS pension will remain one of the very best available, providing a guaranteed pension level for all employees. We will also protect the pensions people have already earned. None of the rights people have accrued will be affected.

'But the status quo is not sustainable, with people living much longer, substantially increasing the cost to the taxpayer.

'The proposals we are consulting on will protect the lowest paid in the NHS. Constructive talks on pensions are still ongoing. It would be very wrong to make assumptions about their outcome.'

 

DH spokesperson said:

"The NHS pension will remain one of the very best available, providing a guaranteed pension level for all employees. We will also protect the pensions people have already earned. None of the rights people have accrued will be affected.

"But the status quo is not sustainable, with people living much longer, substantially increasing the cost to the taxpayer. Lord Hutton made it absolutely clear that there needs to be a fairer balance between what employees and taxpayers contribute to public service pensions.

"The proposals we are consulting on will protect the lowest paid in the NHS. Those earning less than £15,000 will pay nothing extra towards their pensions and a nurse earning £25,000 a year would pay £10 more a month in 2012/13. The pension individuals receive at normal pension age would be broadly as generous for low and middle income earners as it is now. Constructive talks on pensions are still ongoing. It would be very wrong to make assumptions about their outcome."

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