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Volume 53 Number 22, July 26, 2023 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Support the Doctors as the Battle for the NHS Continues

Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index : ShareThis

Support the Doctors as the Battle for the NHS Continues

70th Anniversary of the Attack on the Moncada Barracks, July 26, 1953:
Stand with the Cuban People and their Revolution!

Seminar Hosted by Friends of Korea (Britain):
The International Significance of the Korean War and its Relevance Today


Support the Doctors as the Battle for the NHS Continues

Thousands of senior doctors across England walked out on a 48-hour strike from 7am on Thursday 20 July to 7am on Saturday 22 July. It is the first time consultants have taken part in strike action for nearly 50 years.

As the British Medical Association, which represents consultants, points out, the strike is for the survival of the NHS in conditions that are creating an "exodus" from the profession. The action was called after an overwhelming ballot of 86% in favour on a turnout of 71%.

BMA analysis of NHS and government data reveals that the pay of senior doctors has "flatlined" in past the 14 years, increasing by only 14%. Over that same period, average pay in Britain rose by 48%, itself not enough to keep up with rising inflation. While it is the case that consultants earn higher than average salaries, it is also true that it is highly skilled work adding massive value to the economy, and due to conditions in the health service, involves longer working hours as well as on-call work and overtime. As a result, many consultants are burning out or "voting with their feet" and moving overseas or to the private sector, says the BMA [1].

Health Secretary Steve Barclay simply urged doctors to end the dispute. The previous week, the government had made a below-inflation pay offer of 6%, declaring the offer "final". Yet, according to the BMA, the government has not even spoken with the BMA Consultants Committee since announcing their action.

A 6% rise was recommended by the Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration pay review body (DDRB). The government both manipulate and choose to accept or reject at their whim the reports of these "independent" bodies. The BMA gave it short shrift, condemning the figure as "derisory" and "an insult to consultants" [2].

The BMA is demanding a reform of the DDRB, and points to a recent article in the i newspaper, which quoted a Conservative backbencher as saying: "We basically rig [public pay recommendations] anyway, they are told what the budget is. ... then the Government can agree to a 6 per cent rise and it looks positive." [3]

While Steve Barclay claimed to have "listened", the reality is that the government has hardened its stance and is refusing to negotiate at all.

Rather than listening, the Health Secretary and the government have arrogantly attacked the profession and the dignity of the doctors. Doctors are seen as a highly valued contingent of the workers and people who are also in struggle at every level. As the BMA says, consultants "know their value".

The government's take-it-or-leave-it stance must be seen as a confrontation with workers, their unions, and the working class as a whole, with the NHS staff currently in the forefront and holding the line. The situation with the senior doctors calls for the support of the entire working class and people in the general struggle, which sees the possibilities for a developing counter-offensive. The junior doctors' five-day strike had ended just two days earlier. Though such settlements have been reached for now, as well as with nursing staff, they will not resolve the issues of recruitment and retention, or stress and workload, which exist across the board. Without appropriate improvements in pay and conditions, recruitment and retention are at risk and there is an existential threat to the NHS as it stands.

Doctors are having none of it, and the government's nonsensical talk. This is seen by the widening of the dispute to involve doctors at every level. The stage is set for another major embarrassment for the government if the doctors hold the line and there is every indication that they will do so.

If the government continues to dig in, this will only sharpen the struggle around the aims of defending the rights of all. Their intransigence threatens systemic disruption and credibility of governance not seen in decades. The NHS, and its existence, is seen as crucial by the people. It is fundamental to their aspiration for a human-centred society that looks after their security in life, their wellbeing and the health of their families. It is the will of the people that the NHS be maintained and funded to the maximum, which includes those who work for it.

Support the doctors and all NHS workers! Enough is enough!


Notes
1. "Consultants' strike 'for the survival of the NHS'", B. Ireland, British Medical Association, July 20, 2023
https://www.bma.org.uk/news-and-opinion/consultants-strike-for-the-survival-of-the-nhs
2. "Upcoming consultant strike days", British Medical Association, July 2023
https://www.bma.org.uk/our-campaigns/consultant-campaigns/pay/fixing-pay-for-consultants-in-england#ballotresults
3. "Rishi Sunak faces threat of Cabinet revolt over record public sector pay rises", inews, July 12 2023
https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/rishi-sunak-threat-cabinet-revolt-public-sector-pay-rises-2473529?ico=more_from_this_author

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70th Anniversary of the Attack on the Moncada Barracks, July 26, 1953

Stand with the Cuban People and their Revolution!

July 26 marks one of the most important dates celebrated in Cuba: Moncada Day, or the National Day of Rebellion. Seventy years ago on that day, revolutionary youth led by Fidel Castro launched an attack on the Moncada and the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Barracks in Santiago de Cuba and Bayamo respectively, two of the main garrisons of the reactionary dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Moncada in particular was the regime's military stronghold in the south of Cuba, the second largest barracks in the country and a symbol of its power. The goal was to seize the weapons and distribute them to the people and spark a national uprising that would not only overthrow the Batista dictatorship but also establish Cuba's independence and sovereignty. The attacks were carried out by an organisation that was created in 1952, under the leadership of Fidel Castro.


The Moncada martyrs

Of the 120 or so youth who were part of the attacks, approximately 70 were killed and many others were later tortured and executed. The survivors, including Fidel Castro, were subsequently put on trial and sentenced to long prison terms. At his trial, with great prescience, Fidel Castro delivered his famous speech "History Will Absolve Me" which laid out the national and social goals of the revolutionary movement that eventually triumphed over the dictatorship on January 1, 1959.

Most of the Moncada fighters, including Fidel Castro, were released after they won amnesty in May 1955 due to the broad mobilisation of support from the Cuban people for the aims of the action. They would later regroup in Mexico, joined by Che Guevara and others, returning to continue the armed struggle a year and a half later.


"History Will Absolve Me," poster commissioned by the Communist Party of Cuba in 1973 on the 20th anniversary of the Moncada attack.

This audacious action became the rallying cry for the fight of the youth of Cuba for a bright future for themselves and the nation. It played a decisive role in galvanising the struggle of the Cuban people to affirm their sovereignty, ultimately leading to the victory of the Cuban Revolution in 1959. The action also stirred the revolutionary spirit of the peoples of the world.

To this day, this bold action on July 26, 1953 symbolises the revolutionary spirit and audacity of the Cuban people. It symbolises their recognition of their right to decide their own fate free from foreign interference or domination. It is this same spirit of defiance that has enabled Cuba to not only withstand the genocidal blockade by the US imperialists, but to consolidate the Revolution and provide for the well-being of its people and broaden its internationalist assistance to the peoples of the world despite all the difficulties.

Workers' Weekly sends its revolutionary greetings to the Cuban people and their leadership. Cuba stands on its own two feet and holds its head high. This spirit is indomitable because it upholds a just cause which, moreover, it shares in common with the peoples of the entire world.

On the occasion of National Rebellion Day, RCPB(ML) send a contratulatory message to the Cuban Ambassador in London, H E Bárbara E Montalvo Álvarez. The message said in part: "RCPB(ML) takes this opportunity to salute the achievements of the Cuban Revolution and the ongoing work of the Cuban people and their Communist Party. On behalf of the working class and people of Britain, we pledge to continue to stand with the Cuban people and their revolution! We once again demand that the barbarous and cruel US blockade and sanctions against Cuba be ended.

"We appreciate how much the bold action of July 26, 1953, symbolises the revolutionary spirit and audacity of the Cuban people, the recognition of their right to decide their own fate free from foreign interference or domination. Today, and with the history of 70 years of heroic struggle, it demonstrates that Cuba is determined to affirm its right to pursue its own independent path, and with this it gives inspiration also to that same struggle of the peoples of the entire globe."

Long Live the Cuban Revolution!

London Embassy of the Republic of Cuba Organises Wonderful Cultural Gala to Mark National Rebellion Day


Cuban Ambassador H E Bárbara E Montalvo opening the Gala

With the precept that Cuban culture is the shield and sword of the nation, the UK Embassy of the Republic of Cuba organised a Cultural Gala on July 25, to mark the National Rebellion Day and the 70th anniversary of the attack on the Moncada barracks.

Cuban Ambassador H E Bárbara E Montalvo opened the Gala. In her speech, she said:

"National Rebellion Day is and will be one of the most important dates in the long and heroic struggle of our country for its independence. The assault on Moncada was the resumption of the armed struggle for true independence. The Moncada Barracks assault was deeply inspiring, although it was not successful. It was not the end, but the beginning."

The Ambassador emphasised that "the importance of the participation of the people in the struggle, the value of perseverance in the effort, and not losing heart in the face of any setback, in the face of any difficulty."

The cultural programme featured soprano Olga Ileana Jiménez and pianist Eralys Fernández, who both studied initially at the University of the Arts in Cuba. They performed a programme of Cuban classical songs, songs of identity and Cubanness, and a selection of five Cuban danzas by Ignacio Cervantes.

For two short clips of the music, see:

https://twitter.com/i/status/1683909184658472978
https://twitter.com/i/status/1684108331105898498


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Seminar Hosted by Friends of Korea (Britain)

The International Significance of the Korean War and its Relevance Today

SUNDAY, JULY 30, 2023, at 2.00pm

On July 27, the Korean people, as well as peace-loving humanity, will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the United States in 1953 which brought a ceasefire to the Korean War. On June 25, 1950, the US imperialists, under the aegis of the United Nations, had launched a brutal illegal war of aggression against the Korean nation. Since July 27, 1953, the US has done everything possible to maintain its military presence on the Korean Peninsula and keep the Korean War going. But the resistance of the DPRK continues, as the Korean people proudly demonstrate their mettle and build their own future. The Victory Day is not simply a celebration day for commemorating and looking back to a chapter of resistance in a previous era. The day also serves as a reminder that the US imperialists and their appeasers are stepping up war preparations in the Asia Pacific, and that the terrible tragedies visited upon the Korean people during the Koean War must never again be permitted. The significance of that war is taking on new meaning today as the US imperialists beat the drums of war to attempt to justify a nuclear catastrophe that threatens the very survival of the Korean people and the peoples of the world. But it further serves as a reminder that it is the people who are the makers of history and that they themselves must prevail against war.

For further information, and to register to join the online portion of the seminar, email: friendskorea@yahoo.co.uk

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