Lead story

Junior doctors strike again

by Daphne Liddle

THOUSANDS of junior doctors took to their picket lines for the third time this year at around 8am on Wednesday in the long-running fight against Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s efforts to impose on them a new contract that is unfair and unsafe.

More than 5,000 non-urgent operations have been postponed along with many thousands of clinic appointments.

But the junior doctors who work in accident and emergency units have turned up to work as normal because they do not want their industrial action to endanger lives.They continue to point out that the new contract will indeed danger lives by making doctors work excessively long hours to cover normal work-day patterns at weekends and evenings — but without any extra pay for the unsocial hours.

The junior doctors have been offered a modest pay rise but it will not match the money they will lose from ending enhanced pay for unsocial hours

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Junior doctors strike again

Dangerous gap in new pension plans

THE GOVERNMENT’S plans to simplify the state pension scheme will leave thousands of people now approaching retirement age who do not have a full record of National Insurance contributions with no state pension at all, according to a warning from the charity Age UK.

The state pension will be transformed on 6th April this year — changing from a basic pension plus a top up for some people, to a “flat rate” state pension for everyone. But short-term transitional arrangements will mean huge swathes of the retiring population will not get the full flat rate pension.

And there will be thousands of pensioners that for the first time won’t just get less — they’ll get nothing at all.

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Dangerous gap in new pension plans

Scottish Morning Star Spring Conference

by our Scottish political affairs correspondent

THE Scottish Morning Star Spring Conference took place on Sunday at the Scottish TUC’s Glasgow HQ on the theme of “Trident: Arms Conversion versus NATO and Imperialism”. It was dedicated to the memory of the late Alan Mackinnon, a Glasgow GP who devoted much time and energy to Scottish CND as Chair and Secretary. A particular contribution of his was on working on influential STUC—CND reports on the economic and employment benefits of dropping Trident, and arms conversion, themes that loomed large in the course of the conference. Amongst the many tributes paid was a recorded message from the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition.

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Scottish Morning Star Spring Conference

Editorial

A human rights catastrophe in the making

EUROPEAN Union (EU) leaders last week negotiated a strange agreement with Turkey whereby refugees landing in Greece will be returned to Turkey but for each one returned, one refugee from Turkey will be allowed into Europe. The EU will pay Turkey billions to rid itself of the problem of huge numbers of refugees landing in Greece, who are now barred from moving beyond Greece into the rest of Europe.

Turkey already has, according to reports, around three million Syrian refugees within its borders and its record of care for them is not good. The country is also engaged in a genocidal war against the Kurds within Turkey and it has started closing down newspapers that are critical of the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. It is becoming an extreme Islamist fascist state — and the EU wants to leave hundreds of thousands of very vulnerable people at its mercy.

The leaders from the 28 EU countries claim this measure will stop the trail of refugees into Europe if they know they will be returned to Turkey. But they are not fleeing to Europe for fun; they are fleeing for their lives from a war that Turkey has played a major role in stoking.

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A human rights catastrophe in the making