ANOTHER FUTURE FOR THE PUBLIC HEALTH

“LET’S GO”[1] TOWARD TOTAL PRIVATISATION OF PUBLIC HEALTH

September 2020, CNT-AIT France, info sheet of CNT-AIT health branch workers

The Covid crisis has highlighted the dilapidated state of our public health system in France, and particularly in hospitals. This is no coincidence: it is a deliberate policy, followed for decades by all governments, without exception, no matter they were right or left wing. All of them have closed tens of thousands of hospital beds, President Macron only continued the dismantling policies implemented before him by Hollande, Sarkozy Chirac and even Mitterrand. Their goal is to put an end to the French health system, which certainly has flaws but above all has the great advantage of being universal and based on solidarity. Under the pretext of « Social Security deficit », it is a rampant privatization that the politicians are preparing, for the greater benefit of the private insurers.

The financiers hope to take advantage of the Covid crisis to give the final kick that will collapse the public health system in France. Their campaign to influence public opinion is in full swing. This summer, they paid a full page in the number one mainstream newspaper, Le Monde, to promote the health privatization scheme. On TV sets, pseudo experts follow one another to spread their venom in favour of the “liberalization” of public health…

But there is one country that has already implemented the privatization they dream of: Spain. Today, Spain is the country in Europe where the Covid situation is most catastrophic, with thousands of people who died at home or in seniors’ residences for lack of space in hospitals. Public health systems and caregivers are on the verge of collapse, for lack of resources, beds, and staff workers. We reproduce after a text from our companions of the CNT-AIT health union in Barcelona, who explain the nightmare of the situation of the Spanish health system.

In Spain, hospital staff trusted the traditional unions to try to slow down this fatal development. They voted for them in the union elections, they listened to union officials telling them to be reasonable, to just walk from one day of action to another day of action 6 month later, without mixing their struggle with that of other industries. Healthcare workers have been spectators at all round tables, rounds of negotiations and other “bailout deals”, leaving union officials to speak for them. In short, the legitimate revolt of the staff was numbed by the institutionalised Unions with fine words and short-lived electoral promises. This is what is likely to happen to us in France also…

The hospital staff of Paris hospitals (AP-HP,) who have not counted their hours, can no longer stand it! We are not superheroes nor sacrificed soldiers! In addition to the looming burnout, some services have been severely affected by the Covid, department heads have also resigned. THESE FACTS ARE SERIOUS. WHY THIS COMPLICE SILENCE FROM TRADE UNIONS?

It is time for that to change! Let’s go for General Assemblies of Struggles!


[France] THE « SEGUR » AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE STATE AND THE TRADE UNIONS: INDIGNITY, IMPOSTURE AND TREASON

16 June 2020, CNT-AIT France, leaflet

Health workers have not been increased in salary for 10 years in France. The dissatisfaction of these workers was already great before the Covid crisis. After the first wave of Covid, the government felt that discontent could turn into anger, especially since the population stood in solidarity with health workers. To avoid a social explosion, the government cleared the situation with the help of the Unions, by pretending to negotiate a wage increase agreement with them. The Unions – even the so called “struggle unions” like CGT or SUD – prevented any self-organization of the workers, they made sure that no grassroots initiative took place, they confiscated the workers’ voice. The final agreement – known as “the Segur agreement”, provides for an increase of 183 euros per month that is to say exactly the amount of 10 years of inflation for an average salary. But it is not given immediately: half will be given 3 months after the agreement signature, the other half 6 months later. In addition, not all employees will receive this increase of salary. But above all, the agreement provides that the closures of public hospitals will continue, and so under the pretext of « better organization of the hospital system » privatization can continue…

The Ségur agreement was therefore signed. An increase of € 183 per month for all, after 10 years of wage freezes … Remember that since 2010 cumulative inflation has been + 11.64% (source INSEE). Example for a NET salary of around 1,500 Euros in 2010, he would have to earn NET 1,674 Euros today to have the same purchasing power. This means that with 183 euro the real increase is … 9 EUROS! IT DESERVES APPLAUSE! In addition, the 183 € announced you will not see them right away, but only partially from JANUARY then MARCH 2021, whereas Véran had promised that the increase would be effective from July 1st 2020!!!

At this level, this agreement is above all an INSULT TO OUR DIGNITY!

CFDT, UNSA and FO are the accomplices of this “middle finger” to health workers. But that “middle finger” will not be criticized by the mainstream medias, unlike that of Nurse Farida [who has been arrested by the police during demo and accusing of assault against policemen which is false]…. CFDT, UNSA, not surprisingly; we know they lie in front of managers, even when those don’t ask them to do so. But let us dwell on the case of FO, which is more demanding. FO dares to declare in its leaflet “Negotiations VICTORY”. Fortunately for FO, ridicule does not kill … Let’s see what victory it is:

A victory for wages? Not really …

We have already seen that the revaluation will not even be enough to make up for the freeze on wages since 10 years. In addition, why wait until 2021 to implement the revaluation? The state did not wait to release 3 billion directly to Air France. Is health less important than airplanes? It seems the State is waving that carrot under the noses of health workers in order to assure that they would continue to sacrifice themselves in case a second wave should happen in the fall.

Moreover, this revaluation is not clear and sharp. The agreement does not provide for an increase in the index point or in the salary but an « additional index salary up to (sic) 49 points representing 183 euros net per month« . Basically it’s like a bonus: a supplement can be cancelled overnight, without notice, because it is not permanently integrated into the salary. With the looming crisis, we might as well say that this revaluation is likely to fizzle out… And what means “up to” ? Does it mean it will be a maximum that can be reached, but without guarantee? Because the spirit of this text is to leave the negotiations on indemnities and bonuses to the local management. The Agreement will be implemented on the basis of local agreements signed with local trade unions. Management’s ass lickers, the future is smiling to you!

Finally, this “agreement” provides for “simplifying” the payslips by merging all the allowances: “The parties to this agreement agree that a renovation of the allowance system for public hospital staff will be undertaken [on] the following principle: the new compensation plan is intended to merge all the existing compensation plans.” Concretely, this means that in the long term the compensation supplement of 183 euros would absorb all the current indemnities, such as for example the hardship allowance for a Class 3 caregiver, which is 165 euros per month and who had was acquired by a fight in 1991. A great victory for SÉGUR indeed to suppress the victories of our previous struggles!

A victory for working conditions and the organization of services? Not really …

The agreement text also provides that the Unions agree to the implementation of the “management of jobs and skills scheme”, with self-managed schedules by the caregivers themselves. But the text says nothing – or little – about the material resources necessary to exercise our functions under DIGNABLE conditions. On the contrary, the text even provides for continued bed closures by « developing scheduled and outpatient hospitalizations »! (cf. Bichat Beaujon hospital 35% fewer beds…) In the absence of additional and massive material resources, in the absence of new beds, in the absence of new firm and massive staff hires, it will be above all self-management of poverty and of our own alienation. Let us remember what happened last summer: while the staff demanded MEANS in the middle of a heat wave (air conditioners, ventilators in good working order, refrigerated care stations, etc.), FO Cochin claimed a BONUS for this Heat wave. However, bonuses do not prevent the deterioration of working conditions.

The text also opens the Pandora’s box of calling into question the « 35 hours » (even if we know that it was never the real “35 hours working per week”): « It will be proceeded after consultation, to regulatory changes, in particular Decree No. 2002-9 of January 4, 2002 relating to the organization and reduction of working time in the public hospital service, in order to implement the provisions aimed at improving the organization of work without calling into question the framework legal. »

The reminder of the legal framework should not be misled: the legal framework is not the “35-hours week » but « the annualization of working time » – provided for in the so-called “35-hour’s law”. With the SÉGUR agreement, « within the framework of local agreements« , the Management will be able to change your time schedule, your holidays plan, to plan 12 hours shift everywhere « on a voluntary basis » … and my ass on the dresser … Look what happened in the respiratory medicine unit in the name of COVID, they all had been forced to switch to 12 hours shifts without any Union organization saying anything against it… It must be said that Union officials were exempt from « volunteering » (imposed de facto): 12 hours is good, but for workers, not for their « Union representatives »…

It is necessary to underline the ruse introduced by this agreement: under the guise of organizational autonomy: as the questioning of the mode of organization of the work being done at the local level, structure by structure, each one that would possibly engage in struggle will do it in an isolated manner, but without being a generalized movement. This is the good old « divide and conquer » strategy. We know that the struggle in an isolated structure will have less weight, and therefore less chance of success, than a general strike of the entire hospital sector. However, popular support for hospitals following the COVID crisis put us in a favourable balance of power vis-à-vis the State and the hospital management. But the Unions didn’t take advantage of this massive support and instead, by agreeing to participate in the negotiations, the Unions have disarmed us and sabotaged our favourable balance of power.

In the end, the only victorious are the unionists who “shepherd” our anger…

What is truly incredible is that trade unionists signed this text which is a surrender in open field even before having started any struggle!!! But in fact, this text fits totally with their conception of unionism, a unionism of service, of support, of consultation and discussion, which provides unionists with advantages (permanent union staff paid by State and company, material advantages like offices, subsidies, etc.) in exchange for their docility. (see the article in Le Canard Enchaîné this week which confirms our analysis)

That SUD or the CGT did not sign the agreement should not fool us: they do not need to sign, since the others Unions do it for them. This allows them to play the role of the rebels, but basically they don’t act that much differently from other unions. (By the way, did these so-called “fighting unions” call for struggling assemblies while they were negotiating? No! It shows although neither of them really wanted to engage in fighting with the State). And above all, they do not spit on the advantages that their status as a “representative union” confers on them. If they were really “fighting unions”, they would refuse the advantages granted by the State, so as to be truly free and independent.

This agreement is an INSULT against our dignity.

The objective of the agreement is not to increase the salaries of health workers, but to make us work even more, in material conditions which will always be as degraded, with the unions in the role of wardens. Unions will ensure that the agreements they have « negotiated » is well implemented by health workers. And the unions will obtain concreate benefits from this class Collaboration, under the form of subsidies. Under the guise of managerial autonomy, the agreement will in fact mainly serve to increase the pressure on staff, by forcing them to self-manage their own misery.

Macron told us at the start of the epidemic, “Health is priceless. The government is mobilizing all the necessary financial means, whatever the cost. «This Ségur agreement shows that once again, MACRON LIES: ultimately the accounting logic prevails over health considerations …

Today we are at the time of choices. Not to denounce this agreement is to be complicit. If there are any sincere Unionists left in FO or elsewhere, if they don’t tear up their cards, they are covering up this betrayal. This pseudo-deal is a coup directed against us, those who sacrificed themselves without counting during the crisis. Capitalism carries with it war and misery, and does not care about our health or our living conditions. Only a social revolution will make it possible to put an end to the widespread exploitation of both the planet and humans.

But until then let’s reclaim:

– The immediate withdrawal of this humbug of the Ségur agreement;

– Respect by Macron of his word « health before the economy, whatever the cost » and a single salary for all caregivers, on the basis of the salary of a Regional Hospital Manager (after all, we do not have less demerit than them during the COVID crisis);

– Massive creation of additional beds;

– Massive hiring of at least 300,000 staff in the hospital sector and nursing homes.

To defend our interests, let us not expect anything from the official Unions. Let us organize ourselves, refusal of representation, for direct action, let us create our assemblies of struggle, to free speech and initiatives and bring our demands to fruition.

For a real union activism without union discharges, against permanent union staff for life!

For a universal, socialized, united health system.

Long live the social Revolution!

Some anarchosyndicalist Hospital workers


[1] « Let’s go », « En marche » in French, is the name of the President Macron’s political party.

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