|The News Line: Editorial
Thursday, 21 June 2012
FULL SUPPORT FOR THE DOCTORS’ STRIKE
EVERY TRADE UNION and all trade unionists must support today’s 24 hour strike action by the BMA doctors’ trade union, and must be demanding of their own trade union leaders just why the whole of the trade union movement is not out with them!
Today is a day for workers to go down to their local hospitals with their trade union banners and show their support for the doctors and for the NHS in the face of Tory press attempts to label the doctors as greedy and selfish for daring to stand up for their pensions agreement that was negotiated with the government.
This strike action has the overwhelming support of doctors.
The decision followed a ballot of more than 104,000 members in which more than 50 per cent voted.
Of those who voted 79 per cent of GPs, 84 per cent of consultants and 92 per cent of junior doctors voted in favour of strike action.
As a result of this overwhelming majority vote, members of the BMA will only be undertaking “urgent” or “emergency” work today. This is defined as work that cannot be safely postponed to another day.
Where did the ultra decisive majority for action come from, some will ask.
In fact the BMA membership is very angry with the Tory-led coalition government, which doctors see as being at war with the NHS and dedicated to smashing up both the NHS and the pensions of health workers.
First of all, there is the issue of the hiking of tuition fees up to £9,000 a year, which will leave just graduated doctors repaying that ‘debt’ for the rest of their working lives, until they take up what are planned to be reduced pensions on retirement.
Then there is the anger at the Tory-led coalition’s Health and Social Care Act which the vast majority of doctors are completely opposed to and who will not rest until the Bill, now an Act, is smashed, since its purpose is to carve up, cut, close and privatise the NHS for the benefit of private health companies.
Part of the anger of BMA members comes from the majority view that their leaders blocked and betrayed the struggle against the Health and Social Care Bill, and instead of defeating it, collaborated with it.
They refused to take any action against the bill, leaving members fuming that it was allowed in by default.
Thus when the opportunity presented itself to vote for strike action, the majority leapt at it, as a means of combining their hostility to NHS privatisation and pensions cuts, and at the same time delivering a stinging rebuke to their leaders for leading the troops up the hill like the good old Duke of York, and then to lead them down again, not once but repeatedly as they neutered the struggle against the Bill.
After today’s mass action the BMA Council is due to meet on June 28th to decide what next.
The council majority will be looking to dump the pensions struggle the way they dumped the struggle against the Bill.
BMA members must organise a mass lobby on that day to demand that their leaders call another strike action and that this time they invite the whole of the trade union movement to join it.
In this way the struggle to defend pensions must be brought together with the struggle to smash the Health Act by organising mass strike action, leading to a general strike to bring down the coalition and bring in a workers government.
This is the way forward. Every worker must support today’s strike action and demand that it be the prelude to a one day general strike, and then a general strike to bring down the coalition.
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