Socialist Worker

Left of BMA's junior doctors' committee opposes new contract deal

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2507

Yannis Gourtsoyannis

Yannis Gourtsoyannis (Pic: Unite the Resistance)


Members on the left of the British Medical Association's (BMA) junior doctors' committee have broken their silence over the proposed junior doctors' contract deal.

This follows the descision by the junior doctors' committee not to recommend accepting or rejecting the proposed deal to BMA members yesterday, Friday.

Yannis Gourtsoyannis, who sits on the BMA's junior doctors' committee, told Socialist Worker, "This is an unacceptable contract and it is likely to be very regressive.

“It’s still a fact that our evenings and weekends will be eroded and it’s still a fact that it is gender discriminatory.

"I would vote against this contract.”

The proposed deal was cobbled together between the BMA and Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt after negotiations last month.

The fact that Hunt was forced back to the negotiating table after imposing a dangerous contract is a sign of the pressure he was under.

That pressure was built through eight solid strikes.

Yannis said, "There have been some improvements and that shows that industrial action works. But it still not as good as or better than the one we have.”

Hunt claims the new contract is essential to bring in “seven day working” in the NHS to improve patient safety. In reality the Tories want to smash unsocial hours pay and terms and conditions to soften up the NHS for privatisation.

Working

This deal will make Saturdays and Sundays ordinary working days and reduce extra night shift pay from 50 percent to 37 percent.

Yannis said, “The deal means losing the special nature of evenings and weekends.”

Junior doctors working less than one weekend in eight would only be paid normal pay rates and those working up to one in two would receive between 3 and 10 percent extra.

If the contract is accepted, Hunt may use it to push through further attacks on other health workers’ unsocial hours pay and the NHS. The BMA will now hold 120 road shows across England ahead of the referendum being held between 17 June and 1 July.

The fact that the junior doctors' committee has not taken a position means members can campaign openly.

Yannis said, “There will be campaigning by both sides—myself and others will be setting out our position against the deal. This will mainly be in the form of different materials distributed by the BMA and could include holding sessions.”

Some junior doctors are concerned about what will happen if they vote to reject and if the BMA would be bound by a “referendum” rather than a ballot.

Yannis claimed that, “Members should rest assured that the BMA will honour the outcome of the referendum.

“If members reject the deal, we will return to battle.”

Trade unionists and campaigners must build solidarity with junior doctors and offer support to those campaigning for rejection.

Junior doctors need to organise to defeat the contract and get the strikes back on. It is not too late to win an important victory against the divided Tories.


Hundreds march against Tories axing NHS students' bursaries 

Over 500 people joined a march against the Tories scrapping NHS students’ bursaries in central London last Saturday.

It was organised by the Bursary or Bust campaign.

Sophie, an occupational therapist, had come with a Unison union delegation from Homerton University Hospital in east London.

She said, “It’s a Tory government, it doesn’t care about the NHS”.

“What they’re doing to ‘save money’ is all short-term, but in the long-term it’s dismantling everything that we’ve built.”

To chants of “Jeremy Hunt, shame on you” and “Tories out” the march went from St Thomas’ Hospital to the Department of Health.

Speakers included NUS president-elect Malia Bouattia and leading Bursary or Bust campaigner Danielle Tiplady.

lNHS campaigners in Chorley, Lancashire, plan to march against the downgrading of the Chorley and South Ribble A&E department this Saturday.

They have been holding weekly protests at the hospital gates since April. Assemble 11 June, 12.30pm at Astley Park Gates.


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