YESTERDAY the Tory offensive against not just junior doctors but the entire foundation of the National Health Service reached a ‘watershed moment for the NHS’ in the words of junior doctors’ leader Dr Ellen McCourt.
October 5 was the day that the Tory health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, decreed his dictatorial new contract for these doctors must start to be imposed by hospital trusts.
The response of the BMA was to write to every trust chief executive asking them to ‘pause’ the introduction of the contract until certain conditions had been met.
At the same time it has written to every junior doctor with a pro-forma letter they should send to their trust managers stating that there are: ‘non-negotiable contractual requirements which must be in place for the 2016 contract to start being used’ and warning that: ‘without these, trusts will immediately be in breach of contract’.
We urge trusts to refuse to impose the new contract, and we urge the BMA to immediately restore the three five-day strike actions and to appeal to all TUC trade unions to join these actions as the only way to defend the NHS from the Tory privatisation onslaught.
Hunt this week ‘dealt with’ a survey which reported that nearly half newly qualified doctors were contemplating moving abroad to work because conditions under the Tories were becoming intolerable.
He triumphantly announced to the Tory conference that he would force them to stay for four years after qualifying on pain of being fined up to £220,000! Another dictatorial imposition.
This is not a Tory government that will be deterred from its mission to pay back the £1.67 trillion national debt run up bailing out the banks by legal challenges or just appeals to obey non-negotiable contractual obligations.
This is why the BMA must immediately restore the three five-day strike actions. However, it is the TUC general council, who have treacherously left the junior doctors and the BMA to fight on alone defending the NHS, that has got to be forced to take strike action in support of the junior doctors.
The annual conference of the TUC in September passed an emergency motion in support of the junior doctors’ struggle, full of messages of support and solidarity and declaring that their fight was an issue for the whole trade union movement.
But when it came to action the motion called for absolutely nothing. Instead, the motion merely begged the Tories to ‘work’ with the BMA to seek a negotiated settlement.
There can be no negotiations with a Tory government that is determined that the working class will pay for the banking crisis through austerity cuts that will destroy all previous gains made by the working class including the NHS.
The TUC leaders are so tied to bankrupt capitalism that they refuse to lead such a fight and actively sell out any movement that threatens to bring down this weak, divided government and smash the system that it serves.
In fact, the TUC leader O’Grady and the general council are desperate to forge a working relationship with the new Tory leader, PM May, to see workers sitting on the boards of major companies.
The general council stabbed the junior doctors in the back and refuses to take any support action so as not to get in the way of their better relationship with the Tory leader! This is why they left the junior doctors and the BMA standing alone.
Union leaders who are against this betrayal must now come forward to take strike action in support of the junior doctors. The whole trade union movement must rise up to force the resignation of the leaders who think that it is more important to establish a better relationship with May than to support the junior doctors.
These leaders must be driven out and replaced with a new, revolutionary leadership that is prepared to lead the working class to take action alongside the junior doctors. Workers need a TUC leadership that will call and lead a general strike to defend the NHS and the junior doctors and kick out the Tories to go forward to a workers government and socialism. This is the only way the NHS can be defended today.