Socialist Worker

Don’t stop the fight to defeat Hunt’s attacks

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2488

On the picket line earlier this month

On the picket line earlier this month (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Junior doctors are set to strike across England on Wednesday 10 February.

It is part of a long-running battle against Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s plans to impose new contracts.

Student nurses, midwives and other health students fighting the scrapping of NHS bursaries are also planning a solidarity walkout on that day.

It comes after the British Medical Association (BMA) suspended a 48-hour walkout planned for Tuesday of this week.

Yannis Gourtsoyannis sits on the BMA’s junior doctors’ committee.

He told Socialist Worker, “The action has been suspended, not cancelled, after the government moved to negotiate with us as equals because of our strike.”

But he added that “the action on 10 February remains in place” if there are no real negotiations.

Junior doctors are also set to march through central London on Saturday 6 February.

Yannis said, “We’re seeing the beginnings of a new mass movement from the grassroots.

“Thousands will come out on 6 February to put a message to the government and leadership of the BMA that I’m part of.”

Hunt’s proposed new contracts would rip apart terms and conditions and put patient safety at risk.

He claims it is an essential part of bringing in “seven day working”.

In reality, the Tories want to smash workers’ pay and terms and conditions to soften the NHS up for privatisation.

A leaked document from the negotiations showed that there was some movement on unsocial hours.

Under the new contracts unsocial hours would begin at 10pm rather than 7pm on weekdays, and 7pm on Saturdays.

According to the leak bosses have now proposed they start 9pm on weekdays and 5pm on Saturdays.

This is a miniscule change.The proposal would still make Saturday a regular work day.

Hunt is continuing with his attacks. It was a mistake to call off this week’s strike.

Another key sticking point remains financial penalties on NHS trusts that make junior doctors work a dangerous amount of hours.

These were brought in during the 1990s amid concerns over patient safety.


Waltham Forest Save Our NHS organised an inspiring solidarity meeting for junior doctors and NHS students which drew 40 people last Saturday.

Two junior doctors spoke and were clearly boosted by the reception they received.

Jenny Leow from the health students’ Bursary or Bust Campaign said the junior doctors had inspired them. She added that they were planning to walk out for an hour to coincide with the next junior doctors’ strike.

Jim Fagan


South London Health Workers protest

Health workers in south London fighting outsourcing giant Aramark for £10 an hour are set to protest on Tuesday of next week and again the week after.

The GMB union members work as porters, cleaners and domestics on a contract to South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

The union has said pay talks covering some 175 members in Maudsley, Lambeth, Bethlem and Ladywell hospitals have stalled. Workers will now seek permission from the union for an official strike ballot.

  • Protest 2:30—3:30pm on 2 February and 2—3pm on 9 February outside the Bethlem Royal Hospital, Monks Orchard Rd, Beckenham, BR3 3BX

 

 


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