Monday, June 12, 2006

Support striking doctors

It should come to the surprise of nobody that I support both the radiotherapy strike, and the upcoming young doctors strike. I was particularly disgusted with the Sunday Star Times article on the strike today:

A confidential discussion document written by the DHB negotiating team said the contract fixed staffing levels, meaning hospitals were hamstrung in their efforts to change rosters and move staff across different areas of the hospital when needed. "Essentially, this union manages the staffing levels of this country's hospitals and health services on behalf of its members - a situation intolerable to senior clinicians and managers as demand on the health system continues to increase," the document said.
First of all: confidential my ass - sounds like a document written to be leaked.

But more importantly why shouldn't junior doctors have control over their working conditions? The union isn't some random outside group - it is made up of the people who know the job best, who do the job. The Junior doctors are demanding to reduce the maximum consecutive night shifts a they can work from seven to four and the number of consecutive day shifts from 12 to 10.

Even if I didn't think that was a really good idea from a health and safety point of view, and as a potential patient, I'd still support their demands. I support workers organising not just for better wages, but for control over the working conditions.

I'm particularly impressed that they're not accepting a partnership for crap approach of sending it to a working group. The General Secretary of the Resident Doctors Association rightly points out that these issues should be discussed at the negotiating table - that's where conditions are set, and it's in that forum that members get a vote.

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