In the absence of a credible pay offer to form the basis of talks to end the dispute, we have announced two further walkouts in February and March this year.
7am Wednesday 21 February to 7am Saturday 24 February – 72 hour full walkout
7am Monday 25 March - 7am Friday 29 March- 96 hour full walkout
Dr Oba Babs-Osibodu and Dr Peter Fahey co-chairs of BMA Cymru Wales’ junior doctors committee said:
“After our last round of action, we wrote to the minister for health and social services, and we remain ready to enter discussions if a credible offer is presented by the Welsh Government.
“No doctor wants to strike, but whilst those in power fail to grasp the seriousness of the situation and the strength of feeling amongst our members we feel we have been left with no choice.
“We can no longer accept the unacceptable. After years of undervaluing our lifesaving service, our resolve has never been stronger. With record-high membership, we’re now a bigger, stronger union, and together we remain steadfast in our aim to restore our pay which has been cut by almost a third.
What we are asking for
The Welsh Government committed to the principle of full pay restoration to 2008 levels. Despite this commitment, in our recent pay negotiations it made a first and final offer to uplift our pay by a derisory 5%. This is the worst pay offer for junior doctors in the UK and is below even the DDRB recommendation. Just two weeks after rejecting the Welsh Government’s pay offer, the Welsh junior doctors committee voted unanimously to ballot members on industrial action.
We continue to call on Welsh Government to provide a credible offer and to make good on its commitment and restore the pay of junior doctors in Wales to the same level as it was at in 2008/09.
Why we are asking for full pay restoration
Despite receiving an additional uplift for 2022/23, and a commitment to the principle of full pay restoration by the Welsh Government, our pay has continued to erode in Wales. As shown in the graph below, our pay has now been cut by 29.6% in real terms (RPI) since 2008/09. We are not worth more than a quarter less than we were in 2008. To make matters worse, whilst our pay has decreased, student debt has only increased.
Because of sub-inflationary pay increases, it is now less attractive to work and train in Wales and more of us are leaving to work in other countries. Students are leaving medical school before finishing their training, or deciding not to study medicine at all. The recruitment crisis facing the NHS is a risk to its future here in Wales, and this will only continue to get worse if our pay does not improve.
Junior doctors members in Wales have voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking industrial action over pay.
- Number of individuals who were entitled to vote in the ballot: 2689
- Number of votes cast in the ballot: 1740
- Votes cast in the ballot as a % of individuals who were entitled to vote: 64.71%
- Number of spoilt or otherwise invalid voting papers returned: 3
Result of voting
- Yes: 1696 (97.64%)
- No: 41 (2.36%)
This vote clearly shows the strength of feeling. We are frustrated, in despair and angry and we have voted clearly to say, ‘in the name of our profession, we can’t and we won’t take any further erosion of our pay.Dr Oba Babs-Osibodu and Dr Peter Fahey co-chairs of BMA Cymru Wales’ junior doctors committee
What’s happening in Wales?
We prepared for and entered pay talks with the Welsh Government in good faith at the beginning of August 2023. Despite the health minister’s commitment to full pay restoration to 2008 levels, the first and final offer for junior doctors was a sub-inflationary uplift of 5%. This is the worst pay offer for junior doctors in the UK.
With no other offer forthcoming, we had no option other than to move towards balloting members on taking industrial action. In this ballot an overwhelming majority of members voted in favour of taking industrial action.
How we got here
Our calculations show that the DDRB recommendations and subsequent pay awards by Welsh Government for junior doctors in Wales have delivered a real terms pay cut of 29.6% since 2008, compared with RPI inflation
As a result, WJDC voted by an overwhelming majority to align with the BMA’s UK position established at the 2022 BMA Annual Representative Meeting, to:
- achieve pay restoration to 2007 value for its members within the next five years or sooner and
- to evidence its progress against this aim at every ARM until restoration is achieved.
What's happened in Wales from Jan-June 2023. See a timeline of events.
What have we done in Wales to try and avoid the need to take industrial action?
Taking industrial action is always a last resort. Below, we outline the actions that we’ve taken here in Wales to try and achieve a fair pay uplift. With the breakdown of negotiations, the Welsh Government has given us no other option than to ballot for industrial action. We remain open to negotiation if a credible offer is presented to us.
We wrote to Welsh minister for health and social services outlining the pay erosion faced by junior doctors in Wales and requesting an urgent meeting to discuss pay.
We subsequently met with the health minister and she said she would consider making a public statement regarding pay erosion and full pay restoration.
We joined additional last-minute pay talks alongside other health unions, where the Welsh Government offered to increase last year’s pay uplift from 4.5% to 6% and provide a one-off payment of 1.5%. These talks were to avert further strike action from other health unions. At this point, the BMA was not in a trade dispute with Welsh Government. As part of this, the Welsh Government also committed to the principle of full pay restoration to 2008 levels.
Although the Welsh junior doctor committee voted to reject this enhanced pay offer as it still wasn’t enough to start reversing the pay erosion we’ve faced, the BMA’s majority view and that of the other health trade unions, was to vote to accept it.
We wrote to the minister again to make clear our reasons for rejecting the pay offer and requesting a timeline for full pay restoration (FPR) to avert strike action. You can read more about this in our blog post.
In response to our pressure, the Welsh Government agreed to enter into pay talks for the 2023/24 pay year. We needed to exhaust these talks before declaring a trade dispute.
We made internal preparations to enter negotiations with the Welsh Government.
We asked you for your thoughts on an acceptable pay uplift and your views on industrial action via the junior doctor member pay survey.
What's happened in Wales from July 2023 onwards. See a timeline of events.
Alongside colleagues from the other secondary care branches of practice, we entered pay talks with the Welsh Government. Government officials attended with no pay envelope to negotiate, noting that a cabinet meeting was required to consider this. We used the opportunity to outline the importance of providing a fair pay offer to junior doctors and of restoring pay to 2008/09 levels.
First Pay and Pizza events held at University Hospital Wales, Royal Gwent Hospital and Morriston hospital to raise awareness of the pay erosion faced by junior doctors in Wales and ensure we were ballot ready if no credible offer was made. Get in touch with us if you are interested in hosting a Pay and Pizza event at your workplace.
Pay talks resumed. The Welsh Government provided an opening and final offer of 5% for junior doctors. This is the worst pay offer for junior doctors in the UK and is below even the DDRB recommendation. Our negotiation team withdrew from talks on the basis that no credible pay offer was on the table.
WJDC held an extraordinary meeting to consider the pay offer and unanimously decided to ballot members on taking industrial action.
BMA’s UK Council considered and approved the WJDC application to ballot for industrial action.
Further Pay and Pizza events held across hospital sites in Wales to increase awareness of the pay restoration campaign in Wales and the status of our pay talks with the Welsh Government.
Our update your contact details campaign was launched and members encouraged to update their contact details to ensure these are up to date ahead of a ballot opening.
WJDC wrote to the Welsh Government confirming BMA UK Council approval for balloting and making clear its willingness to re-enter negotiations if a credible pay offer is made.
WJDC announced that the first round of industrial action will take the format of a 72-hour full walkout.
Pay and Pizza events continue to be held and are used to explain why pay negotiations came to an end and why the decision was taken to ballot members.
Junior doctors took part in a 72 hour full walkout commencing at 7am Monday 15 January 2024 and concluding 7am on Thursday 18 January 2024.
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Help us to win this fight
A strike fund is available to subsidise members in serious financial difficulty who otherwise couldn’t afford to take part in any future rounds of strike action.
The strike fund is supported through voluntary donations to make available to doctors in need.
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