DEMAND AN END TO POVERTY THIS GENERAL ELECTION
TAKE ACTION
Employment

Are junior doctors, nurses or train drivers paid when on strike? 

Workers are withdrawing their labour to get demand pay and conditions. But how much will going on strike hit their paypackets?

5 doctors stand in Trafalgar square holding placards such as 'we need pay relief'

Junior doctors at a rally in Trafalgar Square in April. Image: Eliza Pitkin/Big Issue

Tens of thousands of junior doctors have walked out of hospitals in England for the third time this year on a 72-hour strike, with the NHS expecting “enormous disruption” to almost all routine or pre-planned care.

There’s likely to be more strikes on the horizon from train drivers, too, who have voted to continue strike action for the next six months. Announcing the results of the strike ballot, Aslef said the yes vote showed its members are “in it for the long haul”.

And despite the government recently reaching a pay deal with one million health workers, this was rejected by nurses who are currently voting on whether they want to continue strike action for more. 

Seeing their wages devalued by high inflation is precisely why nurses, train drivers and junior doctors have participated in strike action, but industrial action can take a huge financial toll on those who take part. 

By going on strike, any employee is breaking their contract with their employer which entitles them to payment for a day or shift of work. This means that employers can deduct pay from their employees’ wages for the time they spend on the picket line. So if someone goes on strike for one week, they can expect to lose a week’s pay.

However, some unions offer their members who are on strike an allowance to help cover their daily costs – sometimes referred to as strike pay. Most unions have hardship funds to support their members who suffer a particularly large financial hit by participating in industrial action. 

Each union offers their members different forms of financial support during strikes. Here’s what junior doctors, nurses and train drivers can expect to receive when going on strike. 

Are junior doctors paid while on strike? 

Junior doctors do not receive any financial support from the British Medical Association (BMA) , the union that represents them. The BMA encourages those planning to take part in strike action to save money in advance to get them through the sometimes lengthy periods of strike action. 

Are nurses paid while on strike? 

Unlike junior doctors, striking nurses can expect to receive strike pay from their union the Royal College of Nurses. The RCN increased strike pay for nurses from £50 to £80 a day in February, rising to £120 a day if they have taken four or more days of strike action.

Your support changes lives. Find out how you can help us help more people by signing up for a subscription

Nurses and junior doctors earn roughly similar pay during their careers, with the average nurse starting on £27,000 and earning on average £37,000, according to government figures. Junior doctors are paid £29,384 to £34,012 per year, moving up to £40,257 in year three. The key difference, however, is that unless they leave the profession, junior doctors will go on to become trained doctors, speciality doctors or even consultants, earning between £50,000 to £150,000 a year, depending on their specialty and level of experience.

Are train drivers paid while on strike? 

Striking train drivers have not received any strike pay from their union Aslef for the recent action. 

“Since June last year when we first balloted for action, our members have participated in 11 one-day strikes,”  Keith Richmond, Aslef press officer confirmed to the Big Issue. 

“Each time the members go on strike they lose a day’s wages.”

Get the latest news and insight into how the Big Issue magazine is made by signing up for the Inside Big Issue newsletter

Transport union the RMT, which currently has a mandate for strike action but has not announced any dates in the coming months, also doesn’t pay strike pay. The union offers a hardship fund for members to apply to if taking part in the strikes would severely impact their finance.

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about this? We want to hear from you. Get in touch and tell us more.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Free bus travel could lift young people out of poverty and unpick cost of living crisis. Here's how
A bus on Manchester’s new Bee Network
General election 2024

Free bus travel could lift young people out of poverty and unpick cost of living crisis. Here's how

Rishi Sunak says people on benefits don't want to work – here's why that's 'wrong and harmful'
dwp protest
Benefits

Rishi Sunak says people on benefits don't want to work – here's why that's 'wrong and harmful'

'It's abhorrent they're still allowed': Why zero-hours contracts must be made a thing of the past
A young woman cleaning a table in a cafe
General election 2024

'It's abhorrent they're still allowed': Why zero-hours contracts must be made a thing of the past

Nearly half of brain injury survivors claim benefits – without enough support to get back to work
brain injuries
Employment

Nearly half of brain injury survivors claim benefits – without enough support to get back to work

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know