Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2861

Junior doctors inject new life into pay battles

BMA union members are set for ‘the longest single walkout by doctors in NHS history’
Issue 2861
Junior doctors on the picket line with BMA union and homemade placards demanding full pay restoration

Junior doctors on the picket line at the Royal London Hospital in east London (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Junior doctors are poised to escalate their action and launch a major block of strikes that will challenge the Tories and hospital bosses. And they could coincide with more nurses’ action.

The BMA union said, “We won’t give up until junior doctors are fairly paid. On Thursday 13 July, we will stage a five-day strike, the longest single walkout by doctors in the NHS’s history.”

It would be the fourth set of strikes since March as the Tories refuse to go beyond a 5 percent pay uplift. That’s far below inflation and massively short of the BMA’s call for a 35 percent rise to return pay to the level of 2008.

Doctor Meena in east London told Socialist Worker, “I welcome this move. We can’t just allow this to go on without a resolution. It’s hard to take such action, but it is what we need to show how committed we are to the correct outcome.”

The BMA’s announcement came on the same day as a strike ballot of RCN nurses’ union members across England closed. If it is a yes vote and hits the turnout thresholds under the anti-union laws, RCN union leaders should be pressured to call strikes alongside the BMA.

Already RCN members in Wales are set to strike on 12 and 13 July. The Tories are still hoping to ride out the NHS pay revolt.

Co-chairs of the BMA junior doctors committee Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi said, “It has been almost a week since the last round of strikes finished. But not once have we heard from Rishi Sunak or health secretary Steve Barclay in terms of reopening negotiations since their collapse of our talks and cancelling all scheduled meetings a month ago. What better indication of how committed they are to ending this dispute could we have?

“With the 75th birthday of the NHS just days away, neglect of its workforce has left us with 7.4 million people on waiting lists for surgery and procedures and 8,500 unfilled doctors’ posts in hospitals.” 

That’s why the NHS pay battle has to keep escalating, and why every trade unionist should prepare now to join the hospital picket lines. If the health workers win, despite some union leaders settling and pulling out of action, then it will boost all the fightbacks.

Hospital consultant members of the BMA in England are currently being balloted over pay strikes, with walkouts set to take place on 20 and 21 July if consultants vote in favour. Results from the ballot are due by the end of the month.

But the BMA has ruled out the possibility of junior doctors and consultants striking simultaneously, which would really put the Tories in trouble. United NHS strikes can break the government on pay.

Sign up for our daily email update ‘Breakfast in Red’

Latest News

Make a donation to Socialist Worker

Help fund the resistance