Doctors strike after 40 years
It has been 40 years since doctors last protested in the UK, and they are back in it now, citing disagreements over pensions.
Doctors in Northern Ireland started the country-wide protest at midnight on the 21st to continue for 24 hours, opposing a government decision to increase pension contributions and introduce a later retirement age.
Four years ago, doctors negotiated with the government the details of pension schemes, and they now accuse the government of walking away from the agreement.
“We had a fair pension scheme that we had negotiated with the government four years ago by which new entrants to our scheme would have a normal pension age of 65,” Dr Paul Darragh from the union’s Northern Ireland branch was quoted saying.
“We increased contributions. There were tiered contributions by which those who were highest paid would offset the contributions of those who were lowest paid. We also had an agreement by which, if there was any increased cost for those pensions, it would be met by us and not the tax payer,” he explained.
Doctors have however assured minimum disruptions to patients and their safety due to strike action with all cancelled appointments rescheduled while ensuring the smooth running of mental service units.
The majority voted for the strike in a ballot of 104,000 members of the British Medical Association.