TUC and all trade unions must take action alongside the Junior Doctors!

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THE junior doctors have responded magnificently to the Tory threat to dictate their contracts and to impose them from next August with a landslide 98% vote to take strike action, while over 99% voted for action short of strike action.

The BMA stated yesterday that junior doctors had clearly been left with no alternative due to the government’s continued threat to impose a contract that is unsafe for patients and unfair for doctors.

The BMA leadership have done everything possible to avoid strike action and yesterday stated that ‘Even now and with such a resounding mandate, we are keen to avert the need for industrial action and have therefore approached ACAS to offer conciliatory talks with the health secretary and NHS Employers to clarify the conflicting information coming from government over the past weeks.’

There is however nothing to talk about since Hunt will not withdraw his threat to impose the contract. The junior doctors are fighting on behalf of all of the NHS trade unions, who all face their contracts being ripped up and their members’ wages being cut if Hunt prevails and the road to the privatisation of the NHS is opened up.

The issue is that the TUC and the trade unions must not just verbally support the junior doctors, they must call their members out alongside the junior doctors to win this struggle, beat back the Tories, and bring them down!

Unison yesterday supported the doctors, with Prentis saying of the landslide vote, ‘The result is a sign of huge dissatisfaction with NHS pay. It sends a clear message that staff will no longer tolerate the government’s approach of making savings in the health service solely by withholding pay and cutting jobs.’

He added: ‘The way the row with the junior doctors has escalated should show ministers that morale across the NHS is now on a knife edge. Employees across the health service will be watching how this dispute progresses with interest.’

Come off it Prentis! Unison must join the strike action, and respect picket lines, not just ‘watch the struggle with interest’. A defeat for the junior doctors will be a defeat for Unison and its members. Likewise their victory will be your victory. Unison must come out with the junior doctors.

Left talking Unite is in a panic about the huge strike vote saying: ‘The failure of government “to come to its senses” has led to the junior doctors taking drastic industrial action for the first time in 40 years.’ Unite was unable to say that it supported the junior doctors, as a union. Instead, it brought forward a Doctor Ron Singer from the MPU to say that ‘Doctors in Unite have pledged to support their junior colleagues, backed up by the national health committee of Unite, which represents 100,000 members in the health service. . .’

He added: ‘We will enlist support from other NHS members of Unite and other unions to offer their help within the law to work locally with BMA reps. We will exert whatever pressure we can to bring the government to its senses – drop the threat of imposition; open all aspects of the proposed contract to serious negotiation and thereby bring a swift end to this dispute.’

Come off it Unite! Stop the double and treble talk. Respect the junior doctors’ picket lines and bring the whole union out in support, or see the road to NHS union-busting and privatisation opened up! The Tories cannot be brought to their senses – they must be brought down!

The GMB announced that it did support the junior doctors. Rehana Azam, GMB National Officer, said, ‘This overwhelming vote shows clearly that doctors and other NHS staff will oppose attempts by government to redefine unsocial hours and to open the door for excessive working hours. NHS staff are committed to a 24/7 service. However staff rostered to work between 7pm and 7am during the week and at weekends must be paid relevant unsocial hours premia.

‘In addition, attempts to open the door to watering down the Working Time Directive have to be resisted. The Working Time Directive is not “red tape” as the CBI assert. It was brought in as excessive hours were identified as the direct cause of the Clapham Junction rail disaster where 35 people died and 500 people were injured on 12 December 1988.’

So join the battle GMB! The TUC was very late with its statement. A press officer told News Line that it supported the junior doctors, but wanted more talks! Workers must tell the TUC – ‘Get off your knees – Call the general strike NOW!’