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Proletarian issue 45 (December 2011)
Letter: The BMA failure to ballot for strike action
The letter below was written in response to this request for feedback from the British Medical Association:

The BMA will be seeking your views on the government’s offer at the conclusion of negotiations, and if you tell us it’s unacceptable, a ballot on industrial action is a possibility in the future. In the meantime, we are supporting Wednesday’s Day of Action, and I would encourage you to do the same.

It is unacceptable. I think it’s unacceptable, and so, I believe, do the overwhelming majority of doctors.

As things stand, though, we don’t know for sure what the overwhelming majority of doctors think, because you have chosen not to ballot us on industrial action.

It’s no good mulling over the ‘possibility’ of a ballot at some as yet unidentified time ‘in the future’ (no doubt when everyone else is in work as normal and locum cover can be arranged with extensive notice for management).

The time to have balloted us would have been at the same time as Unison balloted their members. This would have resulted in the spectre of a genuinely meaningful strike that would have told the government we mean business, not least because such a bold stand by the BMA would also probably have smoked out the RCN and the Royal College of Midwives.

As things stand, Unison’s action has been undermined by the vacillation of the BMA (something which, I suspect, has been secretly welcomed by Unison’s equally lily-livered leadership). And so, once again, British trade-union leaders throw away the option of meaningful retaliation against the robber barons of British capitalism in favour of wave-your-flag-paint-your-face gesture politics.

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