Socialist Worker

Egypt's doctors strike to heal the health service

by Anne Alexander
Issue No. 2253

A second national strike by doctors affected outpatient services in hospitals across Egypt on Tuesday of last week.

Pay and conditions are at the heart of the strike.

Junior doctors in public hospitals earn as little as £30 a month.

However, activists in the Doctors’ Union, who led the call for a strike, argued that broader demands for more state funding for the health service were necessary to build support for the strike among patients and the public.

In an article published a few days before the strike, Mohamed Shafiq, a member of the Higher Strike Committee and president of Manshiyet al-Bakri Hospital Workers’ Union, explained:

“We will not beat the system alone. But we will win if we mobilise all of these ordinary people to defend their right to life and treatment as well as our right to a dignified life.”

The strike was particularly significant as it was the first example of coordinated national strikes since the revolution toppled Mubarak.

Doctors followed the model developed by the Tax Collectors’ Union during their 2007 strike.

Participation

The action was coordinated by an elected Higher Strike Committee.

The Committee worked in conjunction with a dense network of regional strike committees.

The Higher Strike Committee’s Facebook page received updates from doctors across the country.

They reported on participation in the strike and posted photos and videos of rallies at their hospitals. The strike was suspended late on 17 May following negotiations with the government.

The prime minister convened a meeting with the Higher Strike Committee to discuss revisions to the doctors’ wages structure.

A full meeting of the Higher Strike Committee, including representatives from the regional strike committees, agreed last Sunday to suspend the action until next Tuesday while further negotiations take place.

A further general assembly of the Doctors’ Union was set to meet on Friday to decide whether to accept the government’s proposals or continue the strike.

For more on the doctors’ strike go to www.menasolidaritynetwork.com

Rush messages of support to atebaa@gmail.com and atebaa_bela_hokook@yahoo.com


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Article information

International
Tue 24 May 2011, 17:59 BST
Issue No. 2253
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