Throw out ‘new’ Junior Doctors’ contract

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JUNIOR Doctors must vote from tomorrow to throw out the junior doctor contract agreed by the BMA and the Department of Health on 27 May since it abolishes the three main pillars of the current contract 2000 New Deal.

• 1 Annual pay progression has been removed.

The new contract only uplifts pay at four nodal points in a nine-year training programme.

This holds down pay for long periods. It also creates inequity for special groups, such as women taking maternity leave and less than full-time (LTFT) trainees, amongst others.

• 2. It abolishes Banding.

(i) pay bands reflect a combination of total hours and unsocial hours worked.

Many doctors receive basic pay uplifts of 20 to 50% on their basic pay on this system.

The new contract hits the take-home pay of those doing the most unsocial hours in the evenings and weekends, such as registrars in paediatrics, A&E and Intensive Care.

(ii) Banding contains robust safeguards for everyone on a rota, with prompt financial consequences to the trust if safety limits are exceeded. It relies on collective strength.

The new contract, proposes a complex system of work schedules, work reviews, and exception reporting to a Guardian of Safety employed by the Trust. It depends on the individual pursuing a lengthy three-tier appeal process, and would be weaker than current safeguards.

• 3. The reduction in definition of unsocial hours cuts pay.

Instead of unsocial hours being from 7pm to 7am Monday to Friday and the entire weekend …

Unsocial hours on the new contract would be 9pm to 7am Monday to Sunday, (with variation for long night shifts) with Saturday and Sunday days being plain time (but for a small weekend allowance of +3-10%). Night pay is reduced from +50% to +37%.

Thus plain time in a week would in essence be increased from 60 hours a week to over 90 hours.

This erodes work/life balance and turns JDs into cheap labour in the evenings and weekends.

The repeated negotiations since November have developed complicated ways of mitigating the effects of the removal/ erosion of the three main pillars of the 2000 New Deal, and would leave JDs in a much worse place on a new contract, with:

• large pay cuts not compensated by the 10% rise in basic pay.

• inequity

• weaker safeguards

• JDs increasingly rostered in the evenings and weekends disrupting family life

• more management control

Turning JDs into cheap labour in the evenings and weekends was always the government’s plan, as a way to facilitate elective working every day of the week for incoming private companies, to sweat assets and make profits.

To cave in to this destruction of unsocial hours will make it easier for the government to impose the same changes on unsocial hours to consultants and 1 million NHS staff on Agenda for Change contracts, and hasten the wholesale privatisation of the NHS.

No wonder Hunt responded to the May ACAS deal, saying that the government had stuck to all its ‘red lines’. He said ‘we reached agreement with the BMA on the biggest changes to the new Junior Doctors’ contract for 17 years – including vital changes to help deliver a seven-day NHS.’

This new contract must be rejected. To defend the current contract IS to defend the NHS. Vote NO in the referendum between the 17th June and 1st July.

The struggle must continue, with new strike actions, and with the BMA demanding that the TUC call a general strike to defend the NHS by bringing down the Tories.