Madrid. Hospital doctors on indefinite strike against job insecurity

Photo credits: Médicos y TS-Madrid

A major battle against job insecurity

The movement is of historic magnitude, since Tuesday the contract doctors of the hospitals of Madrid entered an indefinite strike against the directions and the government of the community of Madrid.

The root cause of the mobilization is the enormous precariousness that has affected doctors and all health and technical staff in hospitals for decades, and which has reached its climax with the health crisis. This is the consequence of the neoliberal policies which continue to be the constant and which permeate the health policies of all the regional governments, whatever their political color.

In the specific case of the Madrid health system, the data shows the extent of abuse and the structural precariousness suffered by doctors. According to data from the Ministry of Health itself, 53% of all doctors in Madrid hospitals currently have a temporary contract. Out of 11,970 doctors, 6,215 have a precarious contract as interim or temporary doctors. This situation affects all medical specialties: traumatologists, oncologists, surgeons, internists and emergency physicians.

The current battle has been waged more specifically against a recent measure by the Madrid government which was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Indeed, while some doctors have been practicing for ten, twenty or sometimes thirty years in services under renewed temporary contracts, the government of the Community of Madrid has set up a platform for Public Employment Offer (Oferta Publica de Empleo ) aimed at setting up competitions to make contracts permanent. Already, more than 6,000 layoffs were made last month among health workers hired specifically to fight the pandemic.

This implies that all contract workers, despite their experience and their ability to treat, must pass examinations to continue to exercise. Very concretely, this means massive layoffs among doctors which could reach historic levels, because the experience of the profession does not correspond to the various tests (memoirs, multiple choice questions, etc.).

A promising strike

Thus the movement immediately took on radical and active dimensions in the face of this staggering measure. The strikers have indeed organized large demonstrations, rallies in front of the doors of several hospitals in the city to show their anger as well as discussions within the establishments themselves.

Images that contrast with what the government suggests, which ensures that the strike is crumbling and dying out, and which has also tried to break it with abusive measures to maintain a minimum service. Through an ordinance published Friday in anticipation of the movement, the government imposed on outpatient staff a minimum service of up to 50% of services and up to 100% in services considered urgent.

Despite these containment measures, the radicalism of the movement and the determination to continue the mobilization is important. A determination that is not untied from the nature of this strike, which is both unlimited but above all united and synchronized between the services of the different hospitals.

As Javier Jadokk, Family Physician and AMYTS Delegate in Primary Care points out, “One’s problem is everyone’s problem”

Lessons to be learned for the hospital fight in France?

In recent years, suffering and anger have also been widely expressed in the various French hospital departments. Whether among caregivers but including technical staff and workers in the hospital, mobilizations and strike movements have multiplied against degraded working conditions, lack of staff and means. Especially since the breakage of the public hospital continues unabated as we can see recently in Strasbourg with measures to “straighten the accounts”, with bed closures as a result.

Anger is present, as evidenced very recently by the strikes of the sheaves as well as the pediatric emergencies at the CHU of Bordeaux, but also of the hospital staff of the CHU of Caen.

At the Bordeaux University Hospital, half of the emergency personnel are said to be leaving. Hospital staff in France are exhausted. Ségur and other measures have not compensated for the destruction of jobs, working conditions and care.

The strike in Madrid hospitals should serve as an example. The radicalism, but above all the unity sought by the Madrid hospital workers, differs from the division of the many scattered struggles that are expressed in France.

While the anger is well established and the service after service strikes carried out by the union leaders have clearly shown their insufficiency, it is necessary to provide the hospital movement with a strategy that gives itself the means to unite the different hospital services in conjunction with other private and public sectors struggling for wages. A necessary condition, which combined with a program worth fighting for, can truly make it possible to consider obtaining our demands. This is not the time to negotiate the weight of precariousness and chains with the government.

A consistent battle plan, in a synchronized and unlimited strike movement, with offensive demands such as the considerable and immediate increase in resources and personnel, must be demanded of the trade union confederations, following the example of the interpellation in this sense the direction of the CGT Santé by Marie-Laure Charchar, General Secretary of the CGT Blanchisserie.

To use his words to ask: “Are we continuing with social dialogue or are we taking charge by putting in place a real plan, and a real unification of all the struggles? “. The strike in Madrid hospitals is the first step in answering this question, and responding to the incessant blows aimed at the hospital and the public and its staff.