The Government continue to refuse to talk to our doctors about the changes being imposed upon their contracts, ignoring the very reasonable propositions of the very people who keep us safe.
Maybe, just maybe, the reason our Government seems so intent on treating our junior doctors with contempt is because the Tories only like to deal with doctors in their privately owned shadow healthcare sector.
Maybe the Tories don’t want to stoop to our level. Afterall, for the Tory super-rich, the NHS is just another resource to be privatised for the benefit of their corporate f(r)iends.
Shortly before the switch-on of the city’s festive lights on Sunday afternoon, I, and many others, joined Leicester’s determined doctors in raising awareness about the background of their dispute with the Government.
The warm reception that we received stood in stark contrast to the cold weather, not to mention the icy disposition of the Tories: it was clear to all that the Government’s imposed contract changes would be unsafe for patients and unfair for doctors.
Following a ballot of more than 37,000 junior doctors in England, more than 99 per cent have just voted in favour of industrial action short of a strike, and 98 per cent for full strike action, demonstrating the strength of feeling amongst the profession.
As Jeanna Strutinsky-Mason, a junior doctor at Leicester’s hospitals for seven years, pointed out to the Mercury last week, “none of us want to go on strike but we feel we have been pushed into a corner” (November 19).
The onslaught upon public services is not confined to the NHS, however. It is for this reason that the local branch of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) sent a powerful message of solidarity to Leicester’s doctors.
Other health unions, most particularly Unison, still of course have a chance to ballot their members for united strike action on the second and third strike days being planned by doctors. But such united action is unlikely to materialise under Dave Prentis’s leadership of Unison.
So while the FBU are firmly behind Jeremy Corbyn as Labour’s new socialist leader, Mr Prentis has just decided to accept the dubious honour of becoming the first major union leader to attack Corbyn in the national media (The Independent, November 22).
Socialist alternatives however do exist in Unison, and votes are presently being cast in the election for Unison’s new General Secretary. One can only hope that Mr Prentis is soon replaced by a fighting alternative.
As socialist election hopeful Roger Bannister puts it, Unison “should be leading the battle to defend our NHS. The union’s passivity and disorganisation in the face of these attacks must end.”
The only way for public services to be saved from Tory austerity is for unions to work together more effectively, and shout with a united voice that is adamently opposed to all future attacks on our beloved public services.
This letter was emailed to the Leicester Mercury on November 22.