THE Equity trade union members who play the doctors and medical staff in the BBC medical drama Holby City have offered their full support to the junior doctors.
The cast members plan to take strike action alongside the junior doctors whose strike ballot vote result is to be announced tomorrow and who plan to take the following action:
• Emergency care only – 8am Tuesday 1st to 8am Wednesday 2nd December 2015
• Full withdrawal of junior doctors’ labour – 8am to 5pm Tuesday 8th December 2015
• Full withdrawal of junior doctors’ labour – 8am to 5pm Wednesday 16 December 2015
The brave decision of the Holby City actors must be followed by all trade unionists and all the trade unions. The junior doctors must not be left fighting to defend the NHS on their own! They are battling against an imposed contract that combines long hours, extended from 60 to 90 hours a week, with savage wage cuts because of the cut in unsocial hours payments!
Health Secretary Hunt says that since seven-day NHS working was contained in the Election Manifesto of the Tory Party he has every right to impose it on the junior doctors, without negotiating anything! Hunt is seeking to bring in a Tory diktat over the unions, that will shortly be backed by new draconian anti-union laws!
This attitude is a threat to every NHS worker and to every NHS trade union. If Hunt is allowed to impose a contract on the junior doctors all NHS trade unions, and then all trade unions, will be next. Hunt must be stopped. His seven-day NHS working is the Tory high road to NHS privatisation.
The government is already trying to wave the big stick! Junior doctors have been warned that they will face being struck off if a patient suffers serious harm as a result of possible strike action. They have been threatened by the General Medical Council that if a patient is seriously harmed or put at risk of serious harm by strikes, medics will be investigated and struck off.
In vain, the BMA has explained the obvious that ‘Patients are a doctor’s first priority and it is important to remember that if junior doctors take industrial action, other doctors and NHS staff will continue to provide high-quality patient care.’
The BMA is taking a firm stand because the government’s proposed contract changes would be bad for patients, because junior doctors would be exhausted by long hours! The BMA insists that: ‘Junior doctors have a legal right to take industrial action and the BMA has given more than the necessary notice to their employers. The responsibility sits with employers to ensure that the necessary provisions are in place to provide patient care.’
Nevertheless, an NHS trust has already proposed an ‘Agreed Exemption List’, made up of all grades, to the BMA on the basis that: ‘under section 240 of Trade Union and Labour Relations Act, it is a criminal offence for a person to strike or take industrial action if, in doing so, they would be likely to endanger human life.’
They want to criminalise the junior doctors’ struggle against dangerously long hours and wage cuts. QC John Hendy for the BMA responds: ‘It will be noted that I have cited no legal precedent on the proper construction of s.240 but simply applied modern canons of statutory interpretation. The reason is that since the forerunner of this offence was first introduced in 1875 it appears that no prosecution has ever been brought in respect of it.’
The junior doctors must not be allowed to fight on their own. Defending the junior doctors’ struggle is in fact defending the NHS, and defending the right of trade unions not to have a Tory dictatorship around their necks imposing contracts and criminalising trade unionism.
This is why all trade unions must follow the example of the Holby City Equity members and take strike action alongside the junior doctors to stop all the threats of victimisation and to resolutely win their struggle.
All out with the junior doctors on Tuesday December 1st, Tuesday December 8th and Wednesday December 16! Forward to a general strike to kick the Tories out!