THE lobby of the TUC general council meeting tomorrow is crucial for the fight, not just in defence of the junior doctors, but to force the trade union leadership to take up arms in the defence of the NHS.
Over the weekend the Tories made it absolutely clear that they have no intention of backing down in their plan to impose a new contract on junior doctors – a contract, as everyone knows, whose sole purpose is to cut the wages bill for the NHS and make it more attractive to the privateers who are desperate to get their grasping hands on the NHS budget.
The Tories are acutely aware that this dispute is central to the survival of the government and its plans to set up the NHS for mass privatisation and that no compromise is possible. It is a fight the Tories are determined to see through to the end.
This resulted in the summary dismissal by Hunt of the ‘compromise’ put forward by the Labour party leadership that the new contracts be ‘trialled’ for assessment before being introduced across the England.
Hunt dismissed this as ‘opportunism’, in fact it was an effort to stab the junior doctors’ strike in the back, accepting imposition of this contract on a trial basis is accepting in principle the right of the Tories to impose contracts at will. In any event, Hunt was not even prepared to contemplate this climb-down.
The Tories are out to smash the junior doctors and their union, the BMA, as a prelude to taking on every NHS union and smashing up the NHS as a free at the point of need health service.
The Tories, weak and divided over the EU referendum, are acutely aware that any retreat will be the end of them and therefore no compromise is possible. This was spelt out when the government yesterday accused doctors of a ‘political’ strike aimed at bringing down the government. This is how high the stakes are for the Tories.
Alongside this claim that the strikes are political, Hunt has launched a campaign of vilification, accusing doctors of putting patients’ lives at risk, despite the fact that the BMA has made it clear that anyone in need of emergency medical care during the strike will be treated by senior doctors.
The only ones putting patients’ lives at risk are the Tories – they don’t care about lives, only about saving money to help pay off the bankers’ debts. Watching this bitter fight for the NHS and refusing to intervene is the TUC.
Apart from the usual meaningless words of support, the leadership of the trade unions has done absolutely nothing to defend doctors or the NHS. They have refused to call a single demonstration let alone solidarity strike action in defence of doctors and the NHS.
The TUC is terrified that any action, which would win the overwhelming support of millions of workers and the middle class, would indeed inevitably result in bringing down this rotten Tory government.
They are prepared to sit back and allow the junior doctors to struggle on alone to defend the NHS rather than threaten Tory rule. This betrayal of the NHS, the greatest gain ever made by the working class, must be ended and the TUC leaders either forced to mobilise the huge strength of the trade unions or be removed and replaced by a leadership that is prepared to take on the Tories with a general strike to kick them out.
This makes the lobby on Wednesday so vital. News Line calls on workers and young people in their thousands to descend on tomorrow’s TUC general council meeting to demand that a delegation of doctors be allowed in to address these leaders and demand strike action in their support.
The lobby must demand that the TUC call an immediate general strike to bring down the Tories and go forward to a workers government and a socialist society that will guarantee a free National Health Service for all.