Socialist Worker

'Strike until we win' - trade unionists get behind BMA after Hunt's declaration of war

by Tomáš Tengely Evans
Issue No. 2490

Junior doctors protesting in Whitehall on Thursday night

Junior doctors protesting in Whitehall on Thursday night (Pic: Socialist Worker)


The Tories have thrown down the gauntlet to the trade union movement by imposing a dangerous new contract on junior doctors. If health secretary Jeremy Hunt gets away with crushing the British Medical Association (BMA), it will give confidence to every union-bashing boss.

But junior doctors are furious and want to fight. Patrick, a junior doctor in south London, told Socialist Worker, “We absolutely need to strike again. It’s utterly shocking what the Tories are trying to do and there’s four more years of them.

“United solidarity among all workers seems like one of our few ace cards.” 

The BMA’s junior doctors’ committee chair Johan Malawana said that further action was “inevitable”. The BMA needs to rapidly escalate industrial action—and the TUC and union leaders need to give real support. 

George Binette, the Unison union branch secretary in Camden council, told Socialist Worker, “Hunt’s imposition should sound alarm bells. We should be raising it at our branch meetings and doing street stalls to build the level of strikes.

“We will hear that it’s secondary action—but given the significance the trade union movement can no longer be cowed.”

PCS union executive member Marianne Owens told Socialist Worker, “If we mount a united campaign of industrial action, we can beat back this Tory attack on our unions.” 

Demonstration

Health workers have started an open letter calling on the TUC to call a national demonstration and a day of action of lunchtime walkouts.

Unite the Resistance has a solidarity statement, including encouraging the TUC and BMA to discuss solidarity measures and a national demonstration. It has been signed by PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka and CWU general secretary Dave Ward among others. 

Around 500 junior doctors and medical students joined an emergency protest outside the Department of Health last night, Thursday. Some 100 also protested in Manchester. 

The mood was angry and defiant as people marched on parliament and blocked Whitehall after a rally. William, a junior doctor, told Socialist Worker, “We were all really disappointed—the whole reason for striking was to protect patient safety.

He added, “I hope that we can start negotiations, but the only thing that will do that is if the BMA calls more strikes.”

The demo chanted “Doctors and nurses, unite and strike” and “Strike until we win”.

A troop of National Gallery workers in the PCS union marched down to join them. PCS rep Candy Udwin told the crowd, “You’re not just fighting for yourselves or other health workers—you’re fighting for all of us. If you strike, you will get support from across the country.”  

Up the road at the NUT union headquarters activists had met to discuss the Trade Union Bill

Sandy Nicoll from Soas Unison told the meeting, “The junior doctors are out there chanting, ‘Where are you Jeremy?’ We need to make sure that in a few weeks’ time they don’t start chanting, ‘Where are you Unison, where are you Unite?” 

Hunt has declared war—the unions need to win it.


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