BMA rules out industrial action on pensions

Health union Unison has dismissed talk of a split in the coalition set up to fight public sector pension cuts after the BMA ruled out joining industrial action planned for 30 November.

Up to three million public sector workers could take part in industrial action on that date after unions announced plans last week to ballot their members over strikes.

The BMA is understood to have decided against balloting members over strike action on 30 November, although future action remains an option.

At this year’s BMA annual representative meeting in Cardiff, doctors’ leaders backed a motion allowing the BMA to consider industrial action if attacks on pensions continued.

A spokeswoman for Unison confirmed that the BMA had made clear at a meeting this week that it would ‘not be able to deliver full strike action’ on 30 November.

But she said the BMA decision did not mark a split in the coalition. ‘I don’t see it as a big let down. The BMA has said there is support it can give.’

She said the meeting of the joint Pensions Campaign Group this week had discussed how unions that could not take part in strikes in November could support the action in other ways, by informing members and other initiatives.

‘The undertone was that the BMA was supportive, and that there may be action it can take locally. Everyone will be affected by the outcome of the talks,’ she added.

Confirming that there were no plans for an industrial action ballot, BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said: 'We are certainly not ruling out industrial action of some kind in the future but, for doctors especially, it will always be a last resort in order to protect their patients.

'In the meantime, we will be looking at ways to encourage and guide our members in showing their strength of feeling about the unfairness of public sector pension changes on the day of action.'

Nick Bostock

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