The Socialist

The Socialist 11 May 2016

Tories retreat: now drive them out!

The Socialist issue 901

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Government blinks first in junior doctors' dispute

Junior doctors' picket at Arrowe Park hospital on the Wirral. Feb 2016, photo Roy Corke

Junior doctors' picket at Arrowe Park hospital on the Wirral. Feb 2016, photo Roy Corke   (Click to enlarge)

The Tories appear to have blinked first in the junior doctors' struggle. The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, representing the upper echelons of the medical profession, had appealed for talks between the BMA and the government to end the long-running dispute over a new contract for junior doctors.

On the morning of 5 May, Tory Health Minister Jeremy Hunt was clear that it was too late to stop his imposition of the new contract but just hours later softened that position to temporarily suspending it. Five days of talks started on 9 May.

This should be seen as a significant moment that can give junior doctors confidence that they can defeat the Tories' plans. Undoubtedly, Hunt believed that the escalation of the action to include the withdrawal of emergency cover would backfire on the BMA.

In the run-up to the strike, a 'government source' tried to break public support and intimidate the union by accusing them of trying to "topple the government". But these attempts hardened the strikers, bringing the full support of other health workers, fellow trade unionists and the public.

In Brighton at 8am on the first strike day, 600 marched with the junior doctors, bolstered by many delegates from the Unison health conference. That evening, over 5,000 marched on a joint BMA-NUT demonstration in London, where PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka announced his union's NEC had voted to call on the TUC general council to organise a national day of action in support of the junior doctors. Scandalously, that call was rejected.

It must be made clear to Hunt that failure to withdraw imposition will mean that the struggle goes to a new level. As well as setting out another course of stoppages, the junior doctors' committee should immediately contact the TUC making it clear that junior doctors agree with PCS's call for a day of action.

The Tories are clearly in the corner and any retreat from Hunt will be seen as not only a famous victory for the BMA and the junior doctors, but a massive blow against the government. It will raise the confidence of millions of workers but only by maintaining a fighting stance can the pressure be built on the Tories.

In this issue

Socialist Party news and analysis

Tories retreat: now drive them out!

No to the bosses' EU, yes to international solidarity

Teachers force Tory academies u-turn

TUSC announces '20-city tour': the socialist case against the EU

Independent inquiry into Orgreave now!

Blair played matchmaker between Saudi oil barons and Chinese dictators

What we saw

Them & Us

Socialist readers' comments and reviews

John Mann's Israel hypocrisy

Council estate exhibition shows the full picture

Film review: Eddie the Eagle

The Socialist postbag

Elections 2016

Elections showed anger and fragmentation

TUSC election campaigns show opposition to cuts

Over 1,700 votes for TUSC in Warrington

Scotland: SNP wins but new openings for socialist alternative emerge

Wales: no change and all change

Northern Ireland elections: positive moves against sectarian politics

Over 1,800 votes for TUSC candidate in Bristol

Third anti-cuts councillor elected in Southampton

TUSC increases vote in Coventry by 25%

Fourth place for TUSC in Liverpool

Workplace news and analysis

Blacklisted workers win millions in legal victory

Government blinks first in junior doctors' dispute

Trade Union Bill becomes law

Prison officers walk out over health and safety

Potential new steel bosses refuse to take on pensions

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Let kids be kids: children 'strike' against Sats tests

What way forward for Tamil rights?

Save Paignton Hospital campaign launched

May Day demo says: no cuts to childrens' centres!

Support for junior doctors at campaign stalls

International socialist news and analysis

Greek general strike: more needed to defeat austerity

How to trump Donald


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11 May 2016