YESTERDAY the BMA junior doctors’ leader Dr Johann Malawana said, referring to the forthcoming strike actions: ‘No junior doctor wants to take this action, but the government has left us with no choice.’
He was referring to the full withdrawal of labour that is due to take place between 8am and 5pm on Tuesday 26th and Wednesday 27th April. This will be preceded by a 48-hour emergency care only action due to start at 8am on Wednesday 6 April and end at 8am on Friday 8 April.
Malawana added: ‘In refusing to lift imposition and listen to junior doctors’ outstanding concerns, the government will bear direct responsibility for the first full walk-out of doctors in this country. The government is refusing to get back around the table and is ploughing ahead with plans to impose a contract junior doctors have no confidence in and have roundly rejected. We want to end this dispute through talks, but the government is making this impossible.’
The strike actions were supported by a ballot of junior doctors, and by 98 per cent of those who voted, including for a full withdrawal of labour. During the 26th-27th strike other doctors and consultants will be providing the necessary cover.
Health Minister Gummer told parliament yesterday that the government would not be ‘held hostage’. Gummer said, ‘We will do everything in our power to ensure patients are protected,’ but added, ‘If you withdraw the number of doctors that will be withdrawn by the BMA in this action then there is an increased risk of patient harm.’
The government, by playing the dictator, is forcing the junior doctors to strike, and getting ready to unleash its gutter press onto them to blame them for the consequences of this Tory-imposed struggle.
It wants to demonise them, isolate the junior doctors, drive them back to accept the contract and then proceed to privatise the NHS, delivering a huge blow at the working class and returning it to the bad old pre-NHS days.
The capitalist press is already in full battle mode, preparing the ground for the line that the junior doctors are prepared to sacrifice their patients, and deserve everything that the Tories are preparing to throw at them.
They want to treat the doctors as the miners were treated by Thatcher, as ‘the enemy within’. The working class and the trade unions must not allow the Tories to get away with this tactic.
On April 6 and April 26th, workers must stop work and join the junior doctors’ picket lines to show their full support, and that the doctors’ fight is their fight! But this will be just the start of the struggle. The working class has all of the power in its hands in this country. The NHS is vital for its health and for the health and safety of working class families. The working class must not allow the junior doctors to fight alone!
On April 6, the buses and trains and factories must take strike action alongside the junior doctors. Councils of Action must be formed now to bring everybody out.
At the same time, the TUC union leaders must not be allowed to carry on as if this struggle is nothing to do with them.
They are deliberately looking the other way, hoping that if they crawl low enough then the Tories will get rid of some of the clauses of the incoming anti-union laws that will be used to illegalise the right to strike.
The fact is that the Tories will just use them and then ban strikes anyway! Crawlers always get this treatment! Every trade union branch must carry a resolution to its national executive that the General Council of the TUC must call a general strike to defeat the Tory attacks on junior doctors and the NHS.
There must be a march on the TUC HQ on April 6th to demand that the TUC takes action along with the junior doctors. On April 27, the TUC General Council is meeting. It must be besieged by thousands of workers demanding that it call at that meeting an indefinite general strike to defend the junior doctors and the NHS and bring down the Tories! This is what must be done!