British Medical Association staff to stage fresh strike tomorrow in dispute over pay


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Staff employed by the British Medical Association will stage another strike tomorrow in a dispute over pay.

Members of the GMB union employed by the doctors' organisation will walk out for 24 hours, mounting picket lines outside offices across the country.

It will be the second stoppage by the staff and is timed to coincide with a meeting of the BMA's council in Edinburgh to decide whether to take more action in the separate dispute between doctors and the Government over pensions.

Last month doctors took industrial action for the first time in almost four decades by boycotting non-urgent care.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley today met the new chairman of council at the BMA.

The meeting - Dr Mark Porter's first with the minister since taking up his new position - will have seen the pair discuss doctors' industrial action over the Government's pension reforms.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "This meeting is an introductory one and is not to reopen discussions on pensions.

"We have always been clear that we are happy to speak to the BMA about pensions, as long as that discussion is held alongside other health unions such as the RCN, but this meeting is not being held on that basis."

The BMA announced its first day of action after it accused ministers of pressing ahead with "totally unjustified" increases in pension contributions and a later retirement age for doctors.

The action on June 21 left thousands of patients unable to have a planned operation, or see their specialist or GP.

Figures show that a fifth of GP practices were affected. Across the country, 2,703 operations were postponed and 18,717 outpatient appointments rescheduled.

Another day of action could see doctors running a Christmas Day-style skeleton service with only emergency services operating.

The GMB said fresh talks had been held over its pay dispute, adding that no progress was made after the union rejected a 1.5% offer for this year.

A new proposal of 2.5% from April 2013 was not acceptable as it may not meet inflation, said the GMB.

Union official Anna Meyer said: "GMB members are angry because this is a real cut in living standards and pay at a time when they are working harder than ever in their efforts to defend doctors' terms and conditions.

"The BMA is not a poor organisation and has recently let part of BMA House to an Olympic client for a substantial sum of money which would easily pay for a decent pay increase for staff.

"While the BMA appear to be determined to drive down the salary levels of its workforce, it refuses to disclose the remuneration packages of its senior management group.

"This hypocrisy is draining staff morale and goodwill. GMB urges the BMA to end this dispute now by negotiating on an improved pay offer this year."