*UPDATE* The first round of strikes in September have been suspended by the BMA, whose leaders have caved in to pressure from managers. The subsequent strikes set for October, November and December are still going ahead (so far).
Junior doctors will be on strike for five days from 12 September. This escalation comes out of a rejection by members of the deal put to them by the leadership of their union, the BMA.
Further action has already been announced for October, November and December.
The strikes were announced just after new prime minister Theresa May called on doctors to stop “playing politics”. She clearly doesn’t see the irony as this national action is over contracts which were imposed by Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt (who she kept in office despite widespread anger), in a national health service which has suffered years of cuts and privatisation — making this an intensely political battle.
The contract seeks to remove further barriers to the private sector by destroying pay and conditions, and attempting to break the power of the unions. While many union leaders wait to see what happens with Corbyn, this can be a lightning rod for everyone who wants to see action over austerity now.
Once again the junior doctors are providing a lesson in how to take the fight to the Tories.