• Unions must coordinate industrial action
  • Defend the NHS against Tory government attacks
On the joint Junior doctors and teachers demonstration 26-4-16, photo Paul Mattsson

On the joint Junior doctors and teachers demonstration 26-4-16, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Concerned about their future and that of the National Health Service (NHS), junior doctors in England have voted by 58% to 42% to reject the terms of their proposed new working contract.

With teachers, college lecturers and many other groups of workers having to take strike action against this austerity-driven Tory government and greedy employers, junior doctors should now approach the TUC and coordinate further industrial action.

The only reason health minister Jeremy Hunt backed down from imposing an earlier rotten contract and reopened negotiations was a series of determined strikes of the junior doctors, with overwhelming public support.

Any new threat by Hunt to impose this contract again must be met by strike action.

Junior doctors felt that negotiators had conceded too much and the compromise deal has now been thrown out. Clearly a majority of junior doctors believe that their loss of earnings and a lack of proper oversight on working excessive hours in an increasingly fragmented NHS were unacceptable.

In the wake of the vote Johann Malawana immediately resigned as chair of the BMA union’s junior doctor committee. He accused the Tories of undermining the NHS and driving it “headlong into a wider crisis”.

Yannis Gourtsoyannis of the BMA junior doctors’ committee spoke at the recent National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) conference. To rousing applause he said: “Building links between our unions is vital as we fight for a society in which workers can determine their rights and flourish inside and outside of the workplace.”

Anticipating the vote Yannis continued: “I think a ‘no’ vote is likely and necessary as the contract is not good enough. If we vote no we then need to escalate the action as the government is on its knees.”

The Socialist Party has mobilised public support for the junior doctors’ previous pickets and demonstrations. Once again we will be on the streets drumming up support for any further action to secure a just deal and workable contract.

But we will also be demanding that the trade union movement concretely acts to coordinate industrial action and put into effect the demand for a 24-hour general strike against the austerity agenda of this weakened Tory government. We also demand that Labour MPs stop attacking Jeremy Corbyn and start supporting the junior doctors and other workers.