‘The Junior Doctors’ dispute is for all of us’ says TUC – however it carries a toothless resolution

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Junior doctors defending the NHS – all they have got from the TUC is warm words and absolutely no action
Junior doctors defending the NHS – all they have got from the TUC is warm words and absolutely no action

‘THE junior doctors’ dispute is an issue for all of us,’ declared Unison delegate James Anthony moving Emergency Motion 5 Support for the BMA and junior doctors at the TUC Congress in Brighton yesterday.

The motion calls on the TUC to

‘(i) continue to provide solidarity and support to the BMA and its members

‘(ii) call on the government to lift the imposition of the contract and work with the BMA to resolve the dispute

‘(iii) continue to support and promote the use of national terms and conditions in the NHS

‘(iv) make the case for a properly funded NHS.’

Moving the motion, Anthony continued: ‘Seven-day working is not deliverable with the staff and funding we have. Junior doctors are taking strike action to stand up for patient safety. The dispute is important for all of us because it is a massive attack on national collective bargaining through imposition.

‘But junior doctors are part of a team. If they come for them they’ll be coming for us. If they come for our unsocial hours we will ballot our members for industrial action and we will join them (junior doctors) on the picket lines. We shouldn’t have to work seven days a week. Hunt shouldn’t have to work seven days, he should be gone.’

Seconding the motion, Jon Skewes of the RCM (Royal College of Midwives), said: ‘When we went on strike for the first time in over 100 years we received tremendous support from other unions and that’s why we affiliated to the TUC. We should give the same support to the junior doctors and the BMA.

‘If Hunt does defeat the junior doctors he will come for other NHS staff. If he comes for other staff, we will campaign and we will take united action. We talked to the BMA and they said there were three things that they need help with – no imposition, to defend national terms and conditions and more funding. NHS staff work seven days a week already. We stand together with the BMA. Support the emergency motion.’

Jill Taylor, CSP (Chartered Society of Physiotherapy) asked, ‘Do we want an NHS 24-hours a day or do we want this government to destroy the NHS?’ Alan Dobbie, Unite, said: ‘NHS has too few staff and too little funding to run a seven-day service. A report by the government’s own officials warned of workforce overload. They said this was the biggest danger.

‘The government’s trial to force through the junior doctors’ contract is the tip of the iceberg. The junior doctors’ fight is our fight. For the love of our NHS, support the junior doctors with action not just words.’

Paul Donaldson of the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA), said: ‘If strikes do go ahead we consultants will step in to provide care. While doctors do not like the idea of strikes we understand junior doctors’ anger has driven them to do so. The imposition of the new contract is the opposite of collaboration.

‘The push for a seven-day service is unfair. Doctors are being asked to bear the burden of stretched resources. You can only stretch a stretched workforce so far. We ask the government to reverse the plans to impose this contract – let’s get round the table and talk.’

Delegates passed the motion unanimously. However the TUC resolution did not pledge or call any action – not even a national demonstration. All Trade Unions Alliance Secretary Dave Wiltshire commented: ‘It is disgraceful that no action of any kind has been called with the next junior doctors strike to take place on October 5 for five days. The TUC is set to do nothing. It is more concerned with getting on with Tory leader May than defending the NHS and the junior doctors.

‘I urge all unions to give real support to the junior doctors by stopping work on October 5th, with the RMT, the Bakers, the PCS and the teaching unions taking the the lead. The time has come for deeds not just words.’