Striking Junior Doctors. Photo: Paul Mattsson
Striking Junior Doctors. Photo: Paul Mattsson

Fully funded pay rises for all

“Real life people – not martyrs”,  “no scab can heal this wound”, “we need complete pay restoration”…

Just some of the homemade placards held high by junior doctors on the first days of strike action by their unions BMA and HCSA in March.

The reasons given to Socialist Party members bringing them support on the picket line: extreme stress. Constantly apologising to patients for the long waits. Working day and night shifts for £14 an hour. An NHS under impossible strain.

Junior doctors are the latest on the front line in the fight to save the NHS, and in the national strike wave against the cost-of-living crisis. Young people who have dedicated years to study in order to become doctors, and who in the past would not have been seen as part of the working class, now find themselves adopting working-class methods of struggle, joining the national strike wave begun last summer by rail, postal and BT workers.

Action has forced the government to the table in some disputes. Not every strike develops at the same pace or at the same time. There are ebbs and flows.

But the strike wave is absolutely still on. Teachers in the National Education Union have voted to reject the latest paltry offer from the government by a whopping 98%. University workers in the University and College Union have voted overwhelmingly to continue striking in the reballot demanded by Tory anti-union laws. The civil service union PCS has announced another national strike date as well as continuing targeted action.

The BMA has announced that hospital consultants have also voted, in a consultation, and the result is that they are to be balloted for strike action! Nurses, ambulance workers and other hospital staff are currently balloting on an offer from the Tories. Many of them are angry and want to join the junior doctors on the picket line.

The weak and divided Tories can be beaten. A national trade union-led demo, before the local elections on 4 May, calling for Tories out and inflation-proof pay rises, would ratchet up the pressure.

Escalate the fights, coordinate the action – let’s defeat the bosses, save the NHS and public services, and kick out the Tories!

National strike wave dates

  • Junior doctors in BMA and HCSA: 7am 11 April – 7am 15 April
  • Teachers in NEU: 27 April and 2 May and three more dates in summer term
  • Civil servants in PCS: 28 April
  • See here for more on NHS, NEU, UCU and PCS