Tens of thousands of junior doctors in England are to walk out today on the first of three days of strike action planned over pay.
Ahead of what is predicted to be one of the single biggest days of industrial action in a significant period of time, with civil servants, teachers, university staff, BBC journalists, and more who are members of several trade unions, all walk out on Budget Day this Wednesday (15 March), tens of thousands of junior doctors are staging three days of strikes over pay – with the first being today.
Following a huge vote in favour of their longest-ever period of industrial action, junior doctors – who are members of the British Medical Association (BMA) in England – will form picket lines outside hospitals across the country.
The BMA said newly-qualified medics make just £14.09 an hour, and added that junior doctors in England will have suffered a 26% real-terms pay cut since 2008/09.
The union also claimed they earn less than a barista in a coffee shop.
It comes after popular chain Pret a Manger announced that it would be giving staff their third pay rise in 12 months amid the rising cost of living crisis – meaning they are able to earn up to £14.10 an hour, based on location and experience.
“Thanks to this government you can make more serving coffee than saving patients,” the BMA said in its campaign launching the industrial action.
“This week, junior doctors will take strike action so they are paid what they are worth.”
As junior doctors nationwide report struggling with their finances more than ever before, Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi, co-chairmen of the BMA junior doctors committee, explained why the union members are striking.
“Is £14.09 an hour really all junior doctors are worth?,” they asked.
“These are people who can be providing life-saving care, having trained intensively at medical school, and racking up around £100,000 worth of debt in the process. We are fully supportive of any worker getting an inflation-matching pay rise, and it is worth thinking on the fact that the government has cut junior doctors’ pay by so much that they could earn more serving coffee.
“Is it any surprise that junior doctors are looking for jobs abroad or in other fields when the government is telling them they are worth more than a quarter less than they were in 2008?
“Losing such valuable clinicians to other countries and professions when waiting lists are at record highs means patients will suffer even more than they are already.
“This is why doctors are going on strike.”
“We are fighting to restore our pay,” they added.
“We are fighting to restore our value. We are fighting to restore our workforce to make the NHS an effective healthcare system again.”
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said the strike action being staged by junior doctors this week is “incredibly disappointing”, and claims the the BMA had declined his offer to “enter formal pay negotiations on the condition strikes are paused”.
He also warned of disruption over the coming days.
“We have been working closely with NHS England on contingency plans to help protect patient safety during strikes, prioritising emergency, urgent and critical care – but there will inevitably be some disruption for patients,” Mr Barclay concluded.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also urged junior doctors to “accept the government’s offer to come in and have talks, the other unions have done that and we are making progress.”
Featured Image – BMA
Qatar and Sir Jim Ratcliffe set to submit ‘world record’ offers to buy Manchester United as other bidders are expected to join the race
The deadline for the second round of bidders in the race to takeover Manchester United football club has officially passed, with multiple world record offers reportedly on the verge of being submitted.
Following the first round of bids, which saw a Qatar investment group headed up by Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, and British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe both put in their initial offers, Manchester United set a second deadline of 9pm on 22 March for them to increase their offers and welcome other offers.
While the opening bids matched each other at £4.5 billion, working with financial advisors Raine Group who are brokering in the deal from the US, neither reached the Glazer family ownership’s estimations, who value the club closer to £6bn.
As a result, both went on to carry out further negotiations — each visiting Old Trafford last Friday and staying for upwards of six hours (more than 10 in the case of the Qataris) — but it is now thought they may no longer be the only parties involved in the bidding war. Whether it will be in time is the issue.
Despite earlier reports that Sheikh Jassim and his associates had submitted a “world record offer” before the Glazers and Raine Group’s 9pm deadline (5pm New York time), Sky Sports‘ Kaveh Solhekol has now clarified that the bid was not submitted in time and that they have asked for an extension.
Man United are said to have agreed to the extension and Sheikh Jassim still remains confident that they have the “best bid” of the bunch.
Moreover, as per the likes of Mike Keegan, Jim Ratcliffe was also set to enter his second bid, with both offers said to have increased to around the £5bn mark. However, the INEOS chief exec is also said to have failed to meet the deadline and been granted an extension, according to a senior source.
Kaveh also went on to detail that multiple other offers have in fact been submitted, with the numbers said to be “approaching eight” different bidders.
Any bid of more than £3.75bn would break the world record fee for a sports club set when the Denver Broncos were sold last summer.
As for the frontrunners, both offers are still around a billion short of the Glazer’s asking price and not only have Sheikh Jassim and co. already warned they will ‘walk away’ if the price is too high, but it’s unclear how far Ratcliffe’s wealth can stretch if he is to continue pursuing a deal.
The key difference between the two bids is that Qatar’s bid will apparently make the club debt-free given the sheer mass of state wealth behind them, whereas the Failsworth-born businessman’s financing may be more complex to put together.
Trying to clear up the confusion, The Times‘ Matt Lawton said on Twitter that “both Qatari and INEOS representatives said their bids were in, United sources [are] saying they haven’t yet bid and have asked for an extension”, with offers now set to be made by tomorrow.
As reported by Sky Sports earlier this week, it was thought that “at least five other bidders” and as many as eight in question could join the race along with Ratcliffe and Qatar, who were the only two parties to have submitted an official offer for United during the first round of bidding.
However, a detailed list of the other candidates and precisely how many are still yet to be confirmed; Kaveh did go on to suggest that some could simply be a form of “hot air” designed to hopefully urge the ‘serious bidders’ to edge their offers up even higher.
As for next steps, neither of the parties in the supposed two-horse race expect an immediate decision from the board, especially after the unexpected delay, and those who submitted new offers in the second round of bidding will have to wait at least seven days to hear back from the club and brokers Raine Group regarding their progress.
However, it is worth noting that these subsequent bids may not necessarily be attempts to buy the club outright and not only is there a feeling that a third round of negotiations could take place, but there is also a growing sense that the Glazers could still pull out of a potential buyout altogether.
Greater Manchester’s Clean Air Zone cameras are now being used for ‘detecting crime’
Cameras installed for Greater Manchester’s now-discarded Clean Air Zone (CAZ) scheme are apparently being used for “detecting crime”.
A total of 407 automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras were installed across the region back in February 2022 ready for the start of the controversial £60 million scheme that never happened – but now, councillors in Bolton have revealed that the technology isn’t going to waste, and is actually being for an entirely different reason all together.
After Horwich councillor David Grant “raised concerns” about the cost of running the cameras at recent Bolton Council meeting, leader Martyn Cox revealed that Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has been closely controlling them and using them “to good effect in detecting crime”, according to BBC Manchester.
“Now that the Mayor of Greater Manchester has graciously confirmed that the area of Bolton will most like not be subject to any clean air zone can the leader confirm that he intends to demand that the presumably now defunct cameras be removed?,” Mr Grant asked at the meeting.
He continued: “Secondly, bearing in mind these cameras are live and drawing electricity from our street furniture, will he be requesting a payment for electricity estimated Greater Manchester wide at £375,000 a month?”
Council leader David Cox then explained to Mr Grant that information from the cameras released in line with data protection legislation has been used to support at least two murder investigations, one high risk missing person case, one county lines drug supply case, two separate fatal road traffic collisions, and an aggravated burglary.
“However, it is acknowledged that there are concerns around the use of number plate recognition cameras and allowing direct access to the cameras to organisations such as Greater Manchester Police when these are no longer required for a charging clean air zone,” Mr Cox continued.
“There is a commitment to undertake public consultation on the future use of cameras once we have a decision from central government on the investment led clean air plan.”
The Clean Air Zone was to initially hand motorists daily charges of up to £60 for some of the most polluting vehicles on Greater Manchester‘s roads.
The government agreed to delay the deadline for the scheme until 2026, but local leaders wanted to scrap all charges and help to fund vehicle upgrades instead.
Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) then set out evidence supporting an investment-led, and, crucially for residents and motorists, a non-charging Clean Air Plan back in June 2022 – which it said was “the best solution” to address the roadside nitrogen dioxide (NO2) problem.