Doctors in the British Medical Association (BMA) have called industrial action on Thursday 21 June against the Tories’ pensions robbery.
The BMA balloted more than 100,000 members.
The result was impressive, with 63 percent voting to strike and 78 percent for action short of a strike on a 50 percent turnout.
The vote among junior doctors was particularly strong, with 92 percent voting for industrial action and 82 percent backing strikes.
The action will see doctors providing only urgent and emergency care, while postponing non-urgent cases. It will be the first time the BMA has taken action in nearly 40 years.
Aymen, a junior doctor in A&E at a hospital in Romford, east London, spoke to Socialist Worker.
“I’ll be joining the action,” he said. “The attack on pensions is disgusting.
“We work really hard to provide a public service and we shouldn’t have our conditions taken away from us.”
Doctors agreed a renegotiation of their pension in 2008. The scheme currently delivers a surplus to the treasury of around £2 billion a year.
Yet doctors face contribution rises of more than 50 percent by 2014.
This attack feeds into the wider anger many doctors feel about what is happening to the NHS.
Aymen said, “It’s a slippery slope—once you let them attack your pensions they won’t stop there. That’s why it’s important to stand up and be counted now.”
The action can have a huge political impact, especially if doctors join marches in towns and cities across Britain on the day.
The BMA action gives a focus for other unions too as they discuss the next steps in the strike campaign.
The Unite union’s national health sector committee was set to meet on Friday of this week to discuss the next steps in light of the BMA’s action.
Gill George, a lay member of the committee, told Socialist Worker, “The BMA action offers a brilliant opportunity for joint action among health workers. We need to make sure Unite seizes this opportunity and joins action in June and in the autumn with other unions.”
The PCS national conference last month voted to strike alongside other unions in June, and could still name a day for action.
Niaz Faiz, a PCS member in the London Defra branch said, “There should be action in both June and the autumn.
“If our union doesn’t take a lead, other unions don’t feel the pressure to call action.
“Our general secretary Mark Serwotka should fulfil what he said at our conference—that our union would strike alongside another union in June. There is another union taking action now. We should join them.”
National Reclaiming Our NHS conference, Friends Meeting House central London, 23 June, 10.30am. www.nhscampaign.org/reclaiming