Getting BMA ballot ready in Scotland

As we head into the festive period, the preparations for BMA Scotland’s ballot of Scottish Junior Doctors are continuing at pace. We have kickstarted our campaign and secured BMA funds to make sure the infrastructure is in place so that we win this ballot. These are crucial behind the scenes steps, and the fruits of this labour will I am sure soon be clear to see.

But even as we prepare to ballot our members, we are still meeting with the Scottish Government in an attempt to achieve Full Pay Restoration at the negotiating table rather than the picket line. In Scotland we have a government who are at least meeting with SJDC, unlike the Westminster government who are ignoring our English colleagues.

The most recent of these meetings, however, did not yield any breakthroughs; Humza Yousaf and his team have not agreed to meet us for formal pay negotiations and have instead passed the buck to the DDRB, the review body that many feel is discredited and does not consider as part of its remit the pay erosion by which our profession is so demoralised and insulted.

We will continue to engage with the government in good faith but if we repeatedly reach out for negotiations only to be knocked back it only reinforces our decision to exercise our democratic right to ballot on withdrawal of our labour and strike action. If these meetings become cyclical and there is no indication we are being listened to or our demands taken seriously, we will of course take a view on whether to continue with them; particularly as we continue to pursue key issues such as banding, monitoring and other everyday industrial relations on which we represent you.

To vote in the upcoming ballot you must be a BMA member. Don’t let your voice go unheard – be one of the thousands of doctors to turn out and tell the Scottish government that enough is enough. If you’re already a BMA member then make sure your details are updated; we need your latest address and place of work in our records to ensure you’re represented politically, and other personal details will help identify important areas where the BMA may be failing to represent some minoritized groups. All the details are here.

The UK’s strict anti-trade union laws mean our strike ballot will be postal, and a ballot paper delivered to an old address is effectively a vote against strike action. This Legislation also requires a threshold of 50% of members responding to the ballot for any result to be valid. So there can be no let up in our work to raise awareness and engagement amongst all our members.

The successes of other NHS unions who have run successful ballots should buoy us, but there is no doubt that we will need to use the strength of our entire union membership to overcome these thresholds.

Next time you hear from SJDC it will be about regional webinars led by your local and national reps. Not only will it be a great opportunity to contribute your views and ask questions, it will arm you with the facts and arguments to take out there and engage with your colleagues. Some of the FAQs can already be found here, and it’s a live resource that updates regularly as we move closer to the ballot.

Alongside this, expect in-person activist events and materials to get the word out across your workplace. We’re making sure the BMA is ballot ready – sign up here and make sure you are too.

Dr Chris Smith is Chair of BMA Scotland’s Junior Doctor Committee

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