The first ever strike ballot of junior doctors working in Northern Ireland opens today (Monday 08 January).
The ballot, which runs for six weeks and will result in a 24-hour full walk-out of junior doctors working in hospitals across Northern Ireland if a yes vote is secured, was announced by BMA’s Northern Ireland junior doctors committee (NIJDC) because of the continued failure to address pay erosion, which now equates to a 30% reduction in 15 years.
Speaking about the ballot, NIJDC chair, Dr Fiona Griffin, encouraged all members to get their votes in early and to vote yes.
“This ballot is unprecedented among juniors in Northern Ireland. They are the worst paid with the worst working conditions of any of the UK nations and this is why we are encouraging them to vote yes and to show the strength of their feeling both in the ballot and in subsequent strike action,” said Dr Griffin.
“Our members made clear to us over summer 2023 that they have had enough. When we surveyed them, 75% said they were considering moving abroad to work for better pay and conditions; 72% said they were now more likely to leave training entirely because of low pay; 61% said they were not paid fairly for the work that they do.
“Our health service cannot afford to lose these doctors, which is why we need to address the issues around pay urgently. This can be done with an immediate above inflation pay rise and a commitment to full pay restoration in Northern Ireland.”
Dr Griffin called on the government to engage with NIJDC as a matter of urgency.
“Let me reiterate that strike action does not need to happen. We are willing to talk to government to avoid this outcome. We would welcome any approach from the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to talk to us. We are meeting with the Permanent Secretary for Health and we would urge them to consider our asks and work with us to improve the working lives of doctors in Northern Ireland. If we do not see any progress towards achieving our aims, we will have to escalate our action and there will be longer strikes.”
Notes to editors
- The ballot opens Monday 08 January 2024 and runs for six weeks. The results will be announced on 19 February 2024.
- Should the vote be in favour of strike action, a full 24-hour walk-out will take place starting at 8am on the 6 March 2024 and ending at 8am on 7 March 2024.
- For more information, visit www.bma.org.uk/juniorspayni