The Unison union health conference saw signs of the readiness to resist this week. But it also saw the failure of the union leaders to give it a real focus.
Delegates cherered when it was announced that the union will hold a consultative ballot of ambulance workers after the Tories failed to deliver on a 2015 NHS pay deal.
One Unison union ambulance worker told Socialist Worker, “We’ve been left behind and it’s time to say, ‘Enough is enough’.”
News soon followed that the GMB union will also ballot its ambulance members.
But the Unison leadership was opposing a motion calling for wider NHS industrial action on pay that was to be debated on Tuesday.
It took a delegates’ revolt to get a junior doctor invited to speak to the conference. A speech was orginally opposed, but then inserted after delegates objected.
In his keynote speech on Monday, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis slammed health secretary Jeremy Hunt.
He said, “Junior doctors’ treatment by this government is appalling—Jeremy Hunt should be hanging his head in shame. Tomorrow morning I will be on the picket lines—come and join me.”
Heidi Alexander, Labour’s shadow health secretary, spoke to the conference and slammed Hunt’s attacks.
The Tories are in trouble. That’s why Labour should get off the fence and unequivocally back the junior doctors.