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BMA Scotland to ballot hospital doctors over further industrial action on pensions

Hospital doctors in Scotland are to be balloted over further days of industrial action over the pensions dispute, which would see only emergency cover being provided, the BMA announced today.

Although Scottish GPs will not be balloted, the move represents a significant departure for the BMA, which said in July that it was suspending industrial action and joining other health unions in agreeing to talks with the government.

The ballot will take place in November, and will ask Scottish hospital doctors whether they would be willing to take three days of action on 12 December and 8 and 17 January 2013.

The emergency only cover would be stronger than that taken in June this year as the doctors would not be going in to their place of work.

The Scottish Government has responsibility for certain elements of the pension scheme, including the issue of employee contributions. The ruling Scottish National Party has said it does not support the UK government’s proposals.

However, separate talks between health unions and the Scottish Government have not yielded an alternative offer to the UK deal.  

Dr Lewis Morrison, Chairman of the BMA’s Scottish Consultants Committee, said: ‘It is disappointing that we are considering further, stronger industrial action on the issue of pensions but we believe that this is the only way we can get the Scottish Government to listen to us. They agree that the increase in NHS staff contributions to their pensions is unjust and describe it as a “short term cash-grab” yet they offer no alternative.

‘They say they are negotiating with us in good faith, yet they have 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.’