'You are the face of this': Tom Swarbrick interrogates BMA leader on picket line absence

14 June 2023, 17:27

Rob Laurenson explains his reasons for not being on the picket line during the last walk-out

By Grace Parsons

Junior Doctors Committee co-chairman defended his absence at a picket line after Tom Swarbrick noted that he had attended a wedding during strike action.

Co-chairman of the Junior Doctors Committee Dr Rob Laurenson justified his absence at the picket line, after explaining how he'd missed funerals of friends because there "weren't enough doctors" for him to take annual leave.

Tom Swarbrick challenged: "Your strike action has meant that people have been unable to get an appointment, you're not on the picket lines, you're not even losing a day's pay because you're striking, you've gone to a wedding - what message do you think that sends?"

The junior doctor responded: "We have one in seven junior doctors leaving the country every year and that's a significant rate of attrition that no industry or business could actually [maintain]."

READ MORE: Wes Streeting sends strong message to PM over junior doctors' strikes which could happen 'every month into next year'

Tom challenged: "It's a big problem, but you are the face of this, you are the front and centre of this, and you're also a junior doctor so you're not a full-time trade union leader.

"If a junior doctor on strike decided to go for a wedding maybe that's more acceptable but you've been making the case publicly, you're in the talks with Steve Barclay - do you not feel you had some responsibility to be there with your colleagues on the picket line during those days?"

Dr Laurenson defended his absence: "I am 28 years old. I have missed the funerals of friends because there weren't enough doctors for me to take annual leave... I promised to myself that I would never let work refuse me the opportunities to go and see family and friends' weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, funerals.

"Junior doctors appreciate the pragmatism that is involved in an industrial dispute, which is to withdraw one's labour to demonstrate the value in the labour."

READ MORE: Train driver strikes extended for another six months amid long-running pay dispute

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