British junior doctors’ struggle continues

Junior doctors joined by ambulance workers and supporters on a picket line in Norwich during their last strike on December 12th 2015

From daily News Line in Britain:

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Junior doctors march today

TODAY thousands of junior doctors, health workers, student nurses, march through central London demanding ‘Victory to the junior doctors!’

At 8am next Wednesday morning (February 10) the junior doctors launch a 24-hour strike. They will be joined on their picket lines by masses of supporters.

‘All the unions should take action – it’s everybody’s NHS. The more support we get, the better,’ Hammersmith Hospital junior doctor James Glanville told News Line yesterday. Dr Glanville continued: ‘The key issue for all the professions and specialities is that we stand together in a united front. Junior doctors are out on strike this Wednesday.

‘We have been reassured by the overwhelming public support. People have understood the strike is in support of patient safety. We have to emphasise we are fighting for the survival of the NHS and the future of junior doctors.

‘(NHS Health Executive) Sir David Dalton’s letter to junior doctors is just more spin and skirts around the issues, mainly with the safeguard for working hours. It still doesn’t acknowledge the fact that Saturday is not a normal working day.

‘The attack on us is the beginning of the end. The government has already begun to attack nurses with its planned removal of bursaries for student nurses. So the nursing unions should prepare to take action as well.’

‘We need a national show of support from everyone that values the NHS,’ Dr Shiv Vohra from Kingston Hospital told News Line. He said: ‘I feel very passionate about keeping the NHS in public hands. The way this government is going about trying to privatise the NHS is an absolute travesty.

‘There are several reasons we are concerned about the proposed new junior doctors’ contract. First is the way the government is trying to impose it and they are trying to remove safeguards on the working hours, which poses a threat to patient safety.

‘No patient wants to be treated by overworked, tired doctors looking after them. Secondly, it’s about treating doctors unfairly. Saturday isn’t classified as unsocial hours the way it is for other workers. So why should junior doctors be subject to unfair working conditions?

‘The frustration shared by junior doctors is all to do with patient safety and a safe and fair contract. At no point have we ever asked for an increase in our pay. I’m very touched by the support that other unions have shown, including the FBU firefighters’ union’s open letter.

‘My personal opinion is this is a matter of national concern for each and every member of this country. So given the threat the NHS is facing from the government, we need a national show of support from everyone that values the NHS.’

Junior doctor Joban Sehmi from Hammersmith Hospital told News Line: ‘People realise that we are not fighting for a pay rise but against an attempt to take away the safeguards which are there to prevent doctors being made to work unsafe long hours.

‘The NHS is under threat in this struggle and everybody who uses the NHS must support us. My view is that junior doctors are the first target and after us Health Secretary Hunt is planning to attack the contracts of consultants, GPs and nurses.

‘The attack on student nurses’ bursaries is a terrible message to young people. Rather than encouraging them to enter nursing as a career it’s utterly demotivating. It’s truly appalling. I will be on the picket line at Hammersmith Hospital on Wednesday – we must win for the sake of the whole NHS.’

Junior doctors throughout England ended a 48-hour strike Thursday. The strike was the latest in the doctors’ ongoing dispute with the government, which last month imposed an inferior contract on them. Thousands of doctors participated in picket lines in many towns and cities, despite continuous heavy rain and wind: here.

10 thoughts on “British junior doctors’ struggle continues

  1. Saturday, 12 March 2016

    Junior doctors mass march through east London

    Junior doctors were joined by other public sector workers as they assembled in Whitechapel for Thursday evening’s march

    THOUSANDS of junior doctors marched through the City of London from Whitechapel to St Paul’s on Thursday evening in a show of force and determination on the second day of their 48-hour nationwide strike.

    The junior doctors have called two more 48-hour strikes next month.
    • 48-hour strike from 8am Wednesday 6th April to 8am, Friday 8th April
    • 48-hour strike from 8am, Tuesday 26 April to 8am, Thursday 28 April.

    Chants of ‘Junior doctors show the way. NHS is here to stay! Hey Ho Jeremy Hunt has got to go!’ rang out through the streets. City workers and construction workers cheered them along, plastering BMA stickers on their lapels and hard hats. London’s black cabs, and red buses blasted their horns in support.

    Spreading themselves six deep across the entire breadth of the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, and cheering wildly as a contingent of junior doctors marching from Whipps Cross joined them, the 2,000-strong junior doctors shouted: ‘Save Our NHS!’

    Banners from East London’s NUT branches, Camden Unison and the BMA were on the march. At the powerful rally after the march on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, major unions lined up to pledge support for the junior doctors.

    ASLEF Chingford branch chair Bill Rogers and Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) Ian Hodson called for the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to organise a general strike to support the junior doctors and defend the NHS.

    Speaking at the rally after the march BMA Rep Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya, GP trainee and a junior doctor, thanked the nurses, teachers and other workers and their organisations that had come out to support the doctors.

    He said: ‘We have a duty to be here! It is so clear that this government is mishandling our NHS. They have misled the public, they have misled MPs.’ Interviewed by News Line after his speech, Wijesuriya said: ‘Right now, the government is planning on imposing a contract that threatens the sustainability of our NHS. This will turn this NHS crisis into an NHS disaster.

    ‘We have an obligation to fight them. They have to come back to the table, and take away this imaginary deadline.’ He said: ‘We cannot back down because just like our forebears. we are here to protect our patients from the threats they see and don’t see. Our health service is in jeopardy through the shortsightedness of this government and we need to fight them on that.’

    After the junior doctors’ march through east London on Thursday evening, trade unionists at the rally called for a general strike to support the junior doctors and defend the NHS. To loud cheers, Ian Hodson, National President of the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union called for strike action from other trade unions and pledged his union would strike with the junior doctors.

    He said: ‘Comrades, Sisters, Brothers! You are the front line of our health service and I would like to congratulate the doctors for coming out on strike and defending the NHS, because you are standing up for me, you are standing up for my family and every single person in this country.

    ‘You are the people that make sure that we are treated when we are ill. You are the people who deserve the respect from a government that claims to represent the people of the UK, but when they attack junior doctors and undermine your health and safety, that is not standing up for junior doctors, that is an attack.

    ‘And an attack must be repelled!’ Hodson said to very loud cheers, adding, ‘And that is why you going on strike is the right thing to do. You are right to strike. The sooner the call comes for the Labour movement, the trade union movement to come out on a day of action in support of our NHS, the sooner we will stop them.

    ‘So from the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union, we pledge our solidarity, our support. When that call comes we will be there for a general strike to defend our NHS.’
    Bill Rogers, a train driver from ASLEF, inspired wild cheers when he said: ‘We support the struggle of the junior doctors to defend the National Health Service.

    Bill Rogers, a train driver from ASLEF, inspired wild cheers when he said: ‘We support the struggle of the junior doctors to defend the National Health Service. In November, our branch at Chingford, voted unanimously to call on our union to organise through the TUC a general strike to support the junior doctors. Now you heard earlier the speeches from the Baker’s Union, the Fire Brigades Union and Unite. They represent way over a million workers.

    ‘The TUC represents over seven million workers in Britain. What the Junior Doctor’s Committees on the BMA have got to do, is approach the TUC and say to them, “Call Everyone Out on April the 6th” when you next come out on strike!”’

    To wild cheers he concluded: ‘It is only going to be through bringing down this government that you will defend your jobs and your conditions of service – and most importantly defend the National Health Service.

    ‘This government has got a record of smashing up District General Hospitals up and down the country, smashing up A&E Units and Maternity Departments at Ealing Hospital and Chase Farm Hospital and other hospitals.

    ‘So it can only be through smashing this government that we will defend our National Health Service which is the best thing that the working class in Britain has ever got and we mustn’t lose it. So the words of support from the other unions have got to lead to action. General strike action on April the 6th.’

    Kitty Mohan, Junior Doctors Committee Co-chairperson, speaking to the enthusiastic rally said: ‘The recommendation last July 2015 was the same offer that we walked away from last October and it is unacceptable today.

    ‘Last July, the Secretary of State made some extraordinary claims. He told the BMA that normal junior doctors would accept the contract as put to them.’ ‘No Way!’ the crowd shouted.

    Mohan continued: ‘Hunt said the BMA did not represent the views of normal junior doctors. But last November 98% of junior doctors voted and told the Secretary of State that he was wrong!!! We will carry on taking industrial action,’ she said, ‘again and again and again until he removes his disgraceful imposition and he comes back to have genuine negotiations.’

    Matt Wrack, General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), said: ‘I bring greetings from the Fire Brigades Union and from firefighters across the UK. Our public services have been attacked for many years by this and many previous governments. You deserve the support of every trade unionist in the country, and every member of the public who has relied on the health service.

    ‘The truth is that when they attack you, they are attacking the NHS. They are saying we are a government of ministers who do not give a damn about the NHS. You have the support of my union, the support of ordinary working people across this country.’

    Unite National Health Sector, Officer Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, called for more petitions and protest saying: ‘Make some noise! I come from Unite, bringing you the support of over 100,000 members who work in the health service – biomedical scientists, speech and language therapists, health visitors, bedside nurses, theatre nurses – who just like you are on the front line defending the NHS and trying to get a better service for all the people that use the NHS. They are all behind you and we want you to win!’

    ‘Your fight is our fight and we won’t stop until the light goes out on this Conservative government that is wreaking havoc and misery on the NHS. We are not going to let Hunt /Cameron or the rest of the Tories take our NHS away!’

    Danielle Tiplady, from the Student Nurse Bursary Campaign called for the Tories to be kicked out of office and got a big cheer when she said: ‘I’m a student nurse from King’s College in London and there are many amazing student nurses here.

    ‘In November, George Osborne disgracefully cut our Bursary and instead will charge us up to £64,000 to train to be a nurse. We work 2,300 hours in clinical placements, and we are doing 70 hours of unpaid work in nine days. It is disgraceful and Osborne should resign. They are coming after the junior doctors now. The contract will endanger people’s lives. Jeremy Hunt is a disgrace and he should resign.’

    Cheers of ‘Out! Out! Out! Out!’ went up from the crowd as Danielle continued: ‘The government are privatising our NHS – selling it off piece by piece. We cannot let this happen. Since the declaration of their Bursary cuts, we student nurses have demonstrated with 500 and protested with 5,000. We’ve lobbied MPs in our hundreds.
    ‘I sing the chant “Hey Ho Jeremy Hunt has got to go” quite a lot but now I sing “Hey Ho! Tories have got to go”. Tories out now!’ she concluded to a jubilant crowd, who continued chanting Tories Out! Tories Out! Tories Out!

    ‘We will walk out for two hours on the 6th of April strike day to show our support for the junior doctors and defend our bursaries. On the 16th of April join us for the march for health care, jobs and education.”

    Janet Megan, Central London Executive for Unison – said: ‘When we resist what this government is doing it lifts our hearts it makes us smile. It’s really true that your fight is our fight. Hunt thought junior doctors would be a pushover and then he would come for nurses. We are being made to pay for an economic crisis that we didn’t create and we are the victims of. Jeremy Hunt doesn’t care that 1,500 pensioners will die of fuel poverty, that children go to school in this country hungry, that no one will be able to live in a council house. We also have to support the migrant workers,’ she concluded.


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