Socialist Worker

Trade unionists rally to junior doctors' strike

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2494

Striking junior doctors were joined by members of the RMT union at a rally at UCH hospital in central London

Striking junior doctors were joined by members of the RMT union at a rally at UCH hospital in central London (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Around 200 junior doctors and their supporters rallied outside the University College Hospital (UCH) in central London and marched on the BBC today, Wednesday.

It was a significant show of solidarity from trade unionists on the first day of the British Medical Association's (BMA) 48-hour walkout against the imposition of a dangerous new contract.

Yannis Gourtsoyannis is a UCH BMA rep and sits on its junior doctors' committee. He told Socialist Worker, "If we allowed imposition to go ahead it would set a dangerous precedent. They would use it to launch attacks on the wider working class.

"But we've had over overwhelming support from other trade unionists today.”

At UCH junior doctors were joined by Aslef train drivers’ union members, PCS union members, RMT members, UCU, NUT, Unison and a CWU union postal workers’ delegation.

Phil an Aslef train driver told Socialist Worker, “This isn’t just about supporting the junior doctors. It is also about standing up for the NHS.

He added, “Imposition is a direct threat to trade unions and workers.They tried it on with us over Night Tube, thinking they could get away with it with anyone afterwards.

“But we were able to push them back."

Bob had come with the 10-strong CWU delegation. The postal worker said, “When they attack one group we’ve all got to stick together—we’ve got to back the junior doctors.”

Junior doctors didn’t just get support from outside the hospital. A delegation of 10 UCH nurses also to show support during their lunchbreak.

Janet Maiden, a UCH nurse and Unison union health service group executive member, told the rally, “You junior doctors have been an inspiration to us.

“We’re pushing in our union to get solidarity action with you.”

Ricka, a nurse at UCH, told Socialist Worker, “I’ve come down to shop solidarity. We know everything that junior doctors do and this could be a downward spiral for everyone—that’s not safe for patients.”

The RMT union national executive came down to show solidarity. Sean Hoyle RMT president said, “We’re contacting over 200 branches to ask them to make contact with BMA reps and invite them into their meetings.

“The public and trade union movement are 100 percent behind you.”

Phil added said, “The TUC has not been doing enough to support junior doctors—they should be doing more.”

Candy Udwin, a PCS union rep said, “This has been organised by trade union activists.

“But what could we do if we had a national demonstration organised by all the unions.”

To chants of “Save our NHS” and “Jeremy Hunt has got to go” marchers briefly took the roads and marched on the BBC.

Other speakers included Bfawu union president Ian Hodson, UCU general secretary Sally Hunt and Camden Unison branch secretary George Binette.




Solidaity outside South Kensington Tube (Pic: Roddy Slorach)


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