THE BMA LEADERSHIP has now called a 24-hour day of action on Thursday 21 June, during which only emergency or urgent care will be carried out.
The action is in defence of their members’ pensions, and is being taken after the membership shook the leadership with big majority votes answering ‘yes’ to the question as to whether they were prepared to take part in strike action.
The right-wing majority of the BMA council had already decided, before the ballot, that they would not organise strike action, and the question was put to the membership point blank with a view to dumping strike action completely. The end result of the process is in fact the placing of a political bomb under the council.
In fact, there were six separate ballots, covering different branches of practice across the UK: general practitioners; consultant doctors; junior doctors; staff associate, specialist and specialty doctors; occupational medicine doctors; and public health and community health doctors.
Doctors were asked two questions – whether they were willing to take part in industrial action short of a strike, and whether they were ‘willing to take part in a strike’. It could not have been put in a plainer fashion.
A total of 104,544 members were balloted. Overall there was a 50 per cent turnout. The breakdown of the main ballots were as follows:
• 53 per cent of GPs voted, with 78 per cent voting for industrial action short of a strike and 63% voting that they were prepared to take part in a strike.
• 84 per cent of consultants voted for action short of a strike while 73 per cent voted that they were prepared to take part in strike action.
• Amongst junior doctors, 92 per cent voted for action short of strike action while 81 per cent were prepared to take part in strike action.
Unions representing a host of health professionals, including paramedics, admin staff and porters, have already taken part in strikes over pension changes. But the Royal College of Nursing, one of the most influential voices inside the NHS alongside the BMA, has yet to decide what it will do. Now it will follow the lead of the BMA!
Under the pension plan, the age at which doctors retire will rise from 65 to 68 by 2015.
The union has already pointed out that the current scheme – which was only agreed in 2008 – brings in a £2bn-a-year surplus.
The BMA council is to meet on June 28th, seven days after the day of strike action, to decide on what action comes next.
There are three weeks now until the day of action. The massive majority for strike action in the BMA in defence of pensions will have a huge impact on the health trade unions and all trade unions.
Trade union members of both TUC and non-TUC trade unions must demand that all trade unions stop work, both public sector and private sector, alongside the BMA on June 21 to defend pensions and show the coalition that it has bitten off more than it can chew.
By the time that the BMA council meets on June 28, the whole movement must be roused to demand a week long stoppage of the entire movement to defend pensions, and if this does not suffice, then the TUC and non-TUC trade unions must launch a general strike to bring down the coalition and scrap all of the attacks that are being made on the working class and to defend, jobs, pensions, living standards and basic rights.
The BMA membership has just delivered a huge shock to their leaders and to the Tory-led coalition.
This must be the start of the organisation of a general strike to bring down the coalition and bring in a workers’ government and socialism!