England: Doctors-In-Training Announce Strike Days To Election

With the general election just around the corner, junior doctors in England have announced a strike, intensifying their bitter pay dispute with the ruling Conservatives.

The walkout, just days before the vote, could hijack the campaign’s final days.

Junior doctors, who form the backbone of England’s healthcare system, will down tools for five days starting June 27, the British Medical Association (BMA) has announced. This industrial action, involving all doctors below specialist and consultant level, is the latest salvo in their fight for fair pay.

Junior doctors have been at the forefront of a prolonged campaign for change, with this strike being the latest in a series of nearly a dozen actions over the past year and a half. Their previous strike, which lasted six days, etched its place in history as the longest in the NHS’s seven-decade existence.

In recent years, the country has faced a slew of strikes and walkouts, spanning multiple sectors. This trend is a direct response to the unprecedented inflation and cost-of-living crisis, as workers seek pay adjustments to offset the financial burden of rising prices.

The government, quasi-public agencies and private sector firms have resolved many of the pay disputes, but some remain outstanding, such as with the junior doctors.

Read also: ASUU Threatens Fresh Nationwide Strike, Gives Reasons

They have been asking for 35 percent “pay restoration” as a starting position, with the BMA insisting it is willing to negotiate.

The UK government, which is responsible for health policy in England, has said their demands are unaffordable amid stretched public finances.

Responding to the latest strike announcement, Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said the Conservatives had “taken the tough decisions to keep public spending down to bear down on inflation”.

Reflecting the highly politicised nature of the dispute ahead of the election, she demanded Labour condemn the walkout.

“Labour would be in the hands of their union paymasters — meaning more spending and higher taxes,” she added.

Labour leader Keir Starmer said it was “unforgiveable” ministers had not reached a pay settlement with junior doctors.

“Obviously, I don’t want the strike to go ahead,” he added while campaigning in western England.

“But if we are privileged enough to come in to serve, then it will fall to us to settle this and to come to an agreement.”

They stated that if they were lucky enough to be given the chance to take office, it would be up to them to find a solution and hammer out a deal.

Africa Today News, New York 

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