Bristol Politics, NHS, Trade Unions and Industrial Disputes

Full #SolidariTea to the #JuniorDoctors

This April Junior Doctors and the BMA are set to continue to escalate their resistance to Jeremy Hunt and the government’s plans to impose new contracts that have been universally panned as being both Not Safe and Not Fair.

These new contracts remove financial penalties for NHS trusts that place Junior Doctors on ‘fatiguing’ shift patterns (and are thus liable to enable unsafe working conditions – tired doctors make mistakes); and unfairly attack Junior Doctor’s pay be reclassifying an additional 50% of currently unsocial hours as part of the standard working week.

BRI picket

Junior Doctor’s and their supporters – led by Kitty Thompson and her ‘Tired Doctors Make Misstakes placard’ picketing outside the BRI 10/3/2016

On top of this, the new contract seem geared to accelerate privatisation.  Unsocial hours payments are often cited by private healthcare firms as a ‘barrier’ to their taking over of staff and contracts for some services, removing them will act as a catalyst for the outsourcing of both.

Furthermore, as Dr Lauren Gavaghan recently eloquently explained on LBC (in a video watched by more than 1,000,000 people), expanding work on the weekends isn’t about increasing emergency care (as junior doctors and all NHS staff – myself included – already provide that) but introducing elective non-urgent clinical work into weekends.  This is the work that private companies love to take on as they cherry pick the most profitable services from our NHS to maximise their money making; and thus these contracts will help increase the amount of services liable for private healthcare profiteering.

For all these reasons and more we must support the Junior Doctors when they return to picket lines in coming weeks.

Soldiaritea bri

Greens including Tony Dyer – candidate for Mayor, Carla Denyer – Councillor for Clifton East – and me supporting the BRI picket 9/03/2016

The next strike dates are from 8am on the 6th till 8 am on the 8th of April, and then again from 8am till 5pm on 26th and 27th of April.

This second strike will be all out – for the first ever time junior doctors will not provide emergency care (which will instead be covered by consultants).

The government is currently imploding over divisions on the impending EU referendum and the intensification of austerity measures in the recent budget.  The escalation by the BMA will put the government under intense pressure (as well as shining a spotlight on the Tory’s gradual assault on our NHS), and in this context could well succeed in forcing another humiliating climbdown.

Tory’s know this, and it is no doubt for this reason that the Tory press has intensified its vilification of junior doctors and the supposedly ‘militant’ BMA.  According to reports, junior doctors are being nakedly politically, are only interested in the money, are killing patients with their ‘irresponsible’ striking and should all be fired anyway (according to the Sun).

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Greens at the BRI picket 09/03/2016

Despite the best efforts of the Torys (and much slander and misinformation particularly from Jeremy Hunt) and their allies in the media, the Junior Doctors remain overwhelmingly popular with the public.  Both the Tories and their press are trying to drive a wedge between striking Junior Doctors and the public (and are going to try to use this latest escalation as a means to discredit them).  Attacks on Junior Doctors and the BMA are only going to intensify as the month draws on.

To defend against these attacks, and support our Junior Doctors (striking can be a hard and dispiriting course of action at the best of time, let alone with the attacks in the press) we must stand shoulder to shoulder with them on the picket lines as they fight to not only protect themselves, but also patient and our entire health service.  The government has suffered a series of setbacks and is looking increasingly weak.  Now is the time to escalate our resistance, to link up our struggles, and to fight back against their agenda of cuts and privatisation.

Once again Bristol Greens will be taking to picket lines across the city to provide SolidariTea (and SolidariCoffee) and practical support.  We call on all trade unionist and progressives in our city to do the same.  If we all come together to support the Junior Doctors they can win.  This would both protect vitally important staff (who are already over worked and under paid) and be a signal victory in the fight against NHS privatisation.  It could also significantly contribute to the toppling of this government.

SolidariTea part 2, smaller

Me providing hot cups of SolidariTea and SolidariCoffee to the BRI picket 10/03/2016

 

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Bristol Politics, Trade Unions and Industrial Disputes

Support the #JuniorDoctors #UNISON motion

It’s AGM season, and this year I’ve submitted a motion to my branch on supporting the junior doctors in their ongoing dispute with the government over the imposition of unsafe and unfair contracts.

I’m pleased to announce it was adopted with unanimous support.  Viva la Junior Doctors!

Here’s my motion for info, and if you want to submit a similar motion to your own union branch it could help serve as a template or something.

SolidariTea part 2, smaller

Me, providing some practical ‘SolidariTea’ (get it) to the Junior Doctor’s picket outside the BRI last week

Support the Junior Doctors in their contract dispute with the Government

This branch notes that:

1. The new contracts for Junior Doctors proposed by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and the government constitute an unfair attack on Junior Doctors pay by reclassifying an additional 50% of currently unsocial hours as part of the standard working week.

2. By removing financial penalties for trusts that place Junior Doctors on ‘fatiguing’ shift patterns, the new contracts are liable to enable unsafe working conditions as tired doctors make mistakes.

3. That the BMA has attempted to be as conciliatory as possible – calling off their first set of strikes when the government made slight indications that it would be willing to negotiate, a willingness that was later proven unfounded, and that the BMA hasn’t felt forced to strike in over 40 years.

4. Following implementation of The Health and Social Care Act (2012), over £7 billion of NHS contracts have been issued to private providers.

5. The rate of privatisation increased by 500% from 2013/14 to 2014/15, when over £3.5 billion of contracts issued to private providers in 2014/15.

 This branch believes that:

1. The attack on the unsocial hours of Junior Doctors is a prelude to what Jeremy Hunt and the department of health has in store for all NHS workers.

2. That should Jeremy Hunt succeed in imposing these new contracts on Junior Doctors similar contractual arrangements (removing unsocial hours payments) will soon be imposed on the rest of the NHS workforce.

3. That the NHS is under attack from a Tory government that is ideologically determined to see the public health service further marketised and run in the interests of profit

4. That the cost of unsocial hours payments makes most NHS staff unattractive to private health companies, and that removing them will greatly accelerate the outsourcing of staff and the privatisation of our health service.

 This Branch resolves to:

1. To issue a public statement of support to Junior Doctors taking part in industrial action at Southmead Hospital, and around Bristol and elsewhere

2. To work with the Bristol Trades Union Council and local BMA Reps to provide practical support where requested.

3. To send at least one branch officer to support the picket lines on strike days and encourage as many others to do the same as possible

4. To publicise the issues of the dispute to our membership via email and any other appropriate channels and encourage members to support the strike and the picket where possible.

5. To invite a BMA Rep to speak about the dispute at our next branch meeting.

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