THE British Medical Association (BMA) on Tuesday wrote a letter to Health Secretary Hunt making a ‘clear offer’ to cancel the junior doctors’ strike action on the 26th and 27th April.
Dr Johann Malawana, the Chair, of the BMA junior doctors’ committee wrote: ‘With a week to go to the start of the first full walkout of doctors in this country, I am writing to make a clear offer in a bid to avert industrial action. Simply put, if the Government will lift the imposition, junior doctors will call off next week’s strike action on 26th and 27th April.’
The government replied stating, according to a Department of Health spokesperson: ‘We have today written to the BMA to make clear that it is not credible to call for imposition to be lifted when they refused to negotiate on the one remaining issue of Saturday pay that separates the two sides.’
The Tories have once again shown that they are provoking war on the junior doctors, to clear the way for ‘contract imposition’ throughout the NHS and to push through NHS privatisation. Their decision to make war and reject all peace overtures makes them fully and totally responsible for any consequences, should any harm fall to patients, despite the assurance of junior doctors that in any emergency they will take every action needed to assist patients.
The issue is that the junior doctors are defending the NHS for all of us and every worker knows that without the NHS life would be hell – this is why there is massive support for the junior doctors.
However, right on cue, the General Medical Council has entered the fray to spell out to junior doctors that they could be struck off. The Council said: ‘We would investigate information suggesting that a doctor’s actions during the taking of such industrial action had caused a patient serious harm, or put patients at risk of serious harm, whatever the motive underlying the doctor’s actions.’
It is crystal clear that the Tories are preparing a massive witch-hunt against the junior doctors – the imposed war on them is to be stepped up and there will be victimisations! It is not an accident that, at the same time as the war on junior doctors is to be escalated, the government in the House of Lords, through Lord Bridges, announced a ‘pause’ in the government’s anti-union plans and that the government would change the Trade Union Bill to remove the end to the ‘check-off’ at its next stage in the House of Lords, saying the move had never been intended to undermine the union movement.
What is happening here is that the Tories are willing to talk about making some concessions in order to anchor the TUC to its side, both as far as the junior doctors’ struggle is concerned, and the Anglo-US effort to see that the UK remains in the EU.
The TUC has not organised a single strike against the anti-union laws, has been courting Tory peers and has been keeping well clear of the junior doctors’ struggle.
As they step up the war against the junior doctors, the Tories have decided to try to keep the TUC out of any action, and keep it sweet, as they did under Margaret Thatcher in the war against the miners. The 1984-85 war was to close down the mining industry; the current war against the junior doctors is to introduce contract imposition into the NHS as a prelude to privatising it.
The Tories are seeking to isolate the junior doctors. Then, if they are able to defeat them, they will return to announce to the TUC even stiffer anti-union laws. Every worker knows that the junior doctors are defending the NHS on behalf of all workers. This is why all sections of workers must strike alongside the junior doctors. Workers must also tell the TUC leaders that, if a single junior doctor is victimised, the TUC, at the least must call a 24-hour general strike, as it did to free the Pentonville Dockers in 1972.
Further, the TUC must be made to tell the Tories that if they do not drop contract imposition, it will view this as an attack on all trade unions and call an indefinite general strike. Thousands of workers must join the junior doctors picket lines on the 26th and on the 27th lobby the meeting of the General Council of the TUC at Congress House.
Workers must insist that the General Council listen to a delegation of junior doctors and then take action alongside them to win the dispute. Smashing contract imposition will be a massive victory for all trade unions, and put an end to the attempt to introduce new and draconian anti-union laws!