hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in defense of the public health service

Photo credit: AP – Manu Fernandez

This Sunday, November 13, a real “white tide” invaded the streets of Madrid to defend the public health system in the Madrid region. According to the organizers, 650,000 people marched to the appeal of various associations, unions and user groups behind the slogan: ” Madrid unite to support public health system against plan to destroy it “.

This massive demonstration is a direct response to the government of the Madrid region, led by the Popular Party (PP), a traditional right-wing Spanish party, which seeks to enforce the privatization of health services by forced marches. Specifically, the protesters denounce the “emergency plan” of the Ayuso government [présidente de la fédération du PP de la communauté de Madrid] which has led to the reopening of out-of-hospital emergency centers without hiring staff, a situation that worsens working conditions, puts strains on already exhausted hospital workers and clogs access to emergency services.

The PP continues the destruction of the public hospital with a reform aimed at reorganizing the regional health service, integrating partnerships with the private sector. Already last May the Regional Council had set up the “Oferta Publica de Empleo” platform, which set up a competition for healthcare personnel even if they had already been working for several years. In early April, Ayuso and his government fired more than 6,000 carers who were among the agents hired to strengthen Madrid’s health system during the pandemic.

Ayuso’s last words, pointing to hospital operators as ” privileged and interested he has encouraged health workers and users to go further in their fight, calling for strikes and demonstrations like this one. At the invitation of the “white tide” movement, a first demonstration was called on 22 October and on 26 October the emergency departments of the Santa Sofia hospital went on strike indefinitely. A new strike has already been organized for November 21 in the pediatric emergency services with, in particular, a call of 5,000 doctors to protest against the deterioration of working conditions. Thus, this Sunday’s massive mobilization demonstrates the sector’s capacity of health to surround itself with broad support of the population to defend the public hospital.

But, as written by Lucia Nistal of Corriente de los Trabajadorxssister organization of Permanent revolution : “ We must continue to mobilize in the streets, but not only that: we must force the union bureaucracies to stop negotiating with the government, get off the couch and call a general strike for the entire Madrid health system. . It is necessary to coordinate the struggles for the defense of health care and for the increase in wages, against inflation, against the increase in the military budget, etc.

Why are there forces to face the right, cuts, attacks and privatizations? On Sunday we saw that yes, but not if we allow them to isolate struggles, to deprive us of our most powerful methods of struggle, to divert us to voting for the lesser evil. (…) The solution will not come from those who present themselves as the alternative but which, when they are in government in the midst of the pandemic, do not even touch the private sector, nor by those who present themselves in Madrid as the alternative but who are not ready to question a single point of the rules of the game .

(…) What we need is a fight plan to impose emergency measures against their attacks: dispossess the private sector, which has lined its pockets at our expense during the pandemic, raise wages to the level of consumer price index, put an end to the precariousness of health workers, snatch more means from health care and not from military budgets. »

While in France neoliberal policies continue to destroy the public hospital and strikes regularly emerge in many health services, it is also urgent to implement a battle plan so that a comprehensive mobilization can emerge.

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