Hospital workers' union decides to increase struggle to stop measures to undermine medical services

Nurses and other medical workers in their union congress resolved to stop the government attempt to increase cuts in medical and other social services, and expressed their rejection of the use of medical services for war.

The 175,000-strong Japan Federation of Medical Workers' Unions (Iroren) held its annual congress July 22-24 in Atami City, Shizuoka Prefecture.

A delegate spoke about her participation in the struggle to successfully block a hospital closure plan in cooperation with local residents.

Another delegate said that the number of part-time and other non-regular employees are increasing at hospitals and related facilities, and that the union has organized some of these workers.

An action program unanimously adopted in the congress called for more efforts to foil the Koizumi Cabinet's attempt to adversely revise the Constitution and to give full play to union activities to safeguard people's lives and health.

It in particular criticized the Liberal-Democratic Party government for forcing insured workers to pay 30 percent of medical costs from 2003, transforming state-run hospitals into independent administered corporations from April 2004, and for planning to allow stock corporations to run hospitals.

"We must devote our hearts and energy to protecting citizens' rights to receive medical treatment," emphasized Tanaka Chieko, Iroren chair.

On behalf of the Japanese Communist Party, Koike Akira, member of the House of Councilors, made an address. (end)

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