Socialist Worker

Junior doctors back more strikes against Hunt's contract

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2491

Picketing at Middlesex Hospital on 10 February

Picketing at Middlesex Hospital on 10 February (Pic: Janet Evans)

A significant number of junior doctors are in favour of the British Medical Association (BMA) taking further industrial action against the imposition of a dangerous new contract.

Socialist Worker understands that the mood inside a series of BMA consultation meetings this week has been for further action and escalation.

The BMA’s junior doctors’ committee is set to decide on its next steps in an increasingly bitter dispute with Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt tomorrow, Saturday.

At the 200-strong North Thames BMA meeting last night junior doctors were in favour of escalating industrial action. 

BMA member Jackie told Socialist Worker that, “the meeting voted to escalate action up to and including a full walkout”.

This follows a similar vote in Newcastle on Monday night, where doctors voted for four days of strikes.

This mood isn’t unanimous among junior doctors—and many argue for “mass resignations”.

But it shows that there’s support for action that can defeat the Tories’ attacks. An indefinite walkout by junior doctors would cause a political crisis that Hunt wouldn’t survive.

The junior doctors’ walkouts on 12 January and 10 February became a focal point for resistance to Tory austerity.

Trade unionists brought solidarity to the picket lines and now junior doctors are looking to other workers to join the fight.

Jackie said, “One person at the meeting asked when we are going to start insisting that other health professionals and teachers are going to be part of it?

“That’s because we’ve had a lot of support from them.”

Dave Ward, the CWU union general secretary, told a People’s Assembly meeting that “it’s incumbent on us to get behind the junior doctors.” The TUC and other union leaders should pledge practical support.

They could pledge to urge their branches to invite junior doctors into their union meetings and workplaces—and encourage their members to join the picket lines in their hundreds with union banners and workplace delegations.

The TUC should call a national demonstration. Unison and the other health unions should immediately raise their own issues and ballot their members in the health service.

Every trade unionist must pressure their union leaders to act, and do what they can themselves to increase solidarity.

Hunt’s imposition of a new contract is a threat to every trade union. 

Opinion polls show the public backing the doctors by two to one. But strikes are the most powerful weapon in the union movement’s arsenal—the BMA needs to call hard-hitting action tomorrow.

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