After seeing their own struggle last year grind to a halt in the face of a hostile press and a vicious Tory government, the junior doctors have now declared support for other NHS workers, backing the nurses in their fight for decent pay. Nurses, doctors, and all workers: unite and fight to #SaveOurNHS!
After seeing their own struggle last year grind to a halt in the face of a hostile press and a vicious Tory government, the junior doctors have now declared support for other NHS workers, backing the nurses in their fight for decent pay.
At a British Medical Association (BMA) junior doctors conference on 12-13th May, a motion was overwhelming passed offering the medics’ support to the Royal College of Nurses (RCN) in their emerging dispute with the government.
Nurses and other NHS support staff have seen a 14% real pay cut since 2010 as a result of Tory caps on public sector pay. The straw that broke the camel’s back was an insulting (below inflation) pay increase offer of only 1% this April. As a result, the RCN – a traditionally conservative union – consulted its members recently to see if they would be willing to ballot for strike action. The response was an enormous vote of 78% in favour of a strike ballot over low pay. The scene is now set for the nurses to vote on taking industrial action.
From their own experiences, the junior doctors know full well the vilification that the nurses and the RCN will face if – as seem likely – they choose to strike. Furthermore, the doctors also know the importance of solidarity in such struggles, having seen a huge display of support from other unions and the general public during the course of their fight against Tory attacks on the NHS.
Yannis Gourtsoyannis, a leading figure in last year’s junior doctors’ struggle, welcomed the motion of support for the RCN. “We will stand by them,” Dr Gourtsoyannis stated, “and, if wanted, we would happily share our practical experiences (as well as errors!) from our own dispute.”
“Most importantly, we will reciprocate the solidarity which the nurses and nursing students showed us – on the shop floor, on the picket line, and in the media.”
It is vital that all NHS staff – and indeed all workers – fight shoulder-to-shoulder against the Tories and their cuts. The full weight of the labour movement should be thrown behind the nurses and any strike action they take. If May and the Tories win on 8th June, then a plan for joint strike action – of nurses, doctors, and all healthcare staff – across the NHS should be put in place in defence of our NHS.
This should be supported by a day of action by all public sector workers – including teachers, lecturers, firefighters, and civil servants – who have seen their jobs and pay attacked as a result of Tory austerity. Nurses, doctors, and all workers: unite and fight to #SaveOurNHS!
Motion passed at BMA junior doctors conference, 12-13th May 2017:
In response to the Royal College of Nursing consultation on possible action over pay; this conference:
1. Supports the initial consultation in no uncertain terms
2. Mandates the JDC to provide practical support to the RCN through the consultation process
3. Would, in the case of industrial action, take necessary means to facilitate this process, including informing and mobilising the junior doctors workforce.