TORY Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is already reeling under the pressure from day one of the historic six-day strike by junior doctors.
The Tories have always boasted they could face down junior doctors and their union, the BMA, by refusing to make what the BMA has described as any ‘credible’ pay offer to call off their strike action.
Junior doctors, who have seen their real term pay held at the same level as 2008, are refusing to back down and are clear that what they are fighting for is not just a justifiable pay increase but for the very future of the NHS.
The NHS has been under constant attack with cuts to funding for hospitals, real term pay cuts for medical staff that has inevitably led to a situation where thousands of doctors and nurses have been forced out of the profession.
Under pressure from a Tory government that is in crisis over the massive waiting lists, that have resulted from all the years of austerity cuts, a number of hospitals have resorted to demanding that striking doctors return to work ‘due to safety concerns’ and submitted so-called derogation requests to the BMA.
The derogation process is only supposed to be used as a ‘last resort’ in ‘unexpected and extreme circumstances unrelated to industrial action’.
Of the 20 requests so far submitted the BMA has rejected all but one, which is under consideration.
In a letter to the NHS boss Amanda Pritchard, the chair of the BMA council Professor Philip Banfield said it was ‘astonishing’ that NHS England and some Trusts ‘have refused to evidence any efforts to source alternative staffing or make alternative arrangements’.
He added: ‘The change in approach also appears to be politicisation and weaponisation of a safety critical process to justify the minimum service level regulations.’ In other words, these derogations requests are a smokescreen for the Tories unleashing the anti-strike law in a desperate attempt to break the junior doctors action.
All the threats have rebounded with junior doctors’ leaders saying they are prepared for yet more strikes, piling up pressure on Sunak over his pledge last year to reduce waiting times.
Since then, waiting times have shot up by 500,000.
The working class has never wavered in its overwhelming support for the doctors strike, to the dismay of the Tories and their supporters.
On the contrary, workers are daily experiencing the contempt and complete disregard for their health and lives by a Tory government and the bosses and bankers that they serve.
This contempt was vividly exposed this week when Arconic, the multi-billion dollar company that made the Grenfell Tower cladding – the cladding that burned like petrol on 14 June 2017 in an inferno that killed 72 people – refused to attend an event where survivors and bereaved are due to testify about their suffering directly to the companies they hold responsible for the disaster.
Their refusal to attend the four-day Grenfell Testimony Week was described by one of the lawyers as ‘despicable’ and the ‘behaviour of heartless cowards’.
In the same way yesterday, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey, revealed that when he was postal affairs minister during the Tory/LibDem coalition between 2010 and 2012 Post Office bosses lied to him over the Horizon IT scandal, that led to thousands of Post Office branch operators across the UK being wrongly accused and prosecuted for theft and fraud in the biggest miscarriage of justice in UK history.
Heartless cowards is an apt description of the ruling class and their political representatives in the Tory Party that care nothing for the lives of workers and their families. Instead, like Arconic and the Post Office bosses, they just walk away from the carnage they inflict with their pockets stuffed with profits confident that there will be no reckoning at the end of the day.
The working class has shown it is not prepared to passively accept being treated as expendable garbage by the Tories and the capitalist class.
The time has come for a reckoning with the Tories and the capitalist class by demanding the TUC call an immediate general strike to kick out the Sunak government and put capitalism out of its death agony by going forward to a workers government and socialism.